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LEE BULWilling to be Vulnerable – Metalized Balloon, 2015–16, Metalized film, transparent film and air blower, 300 × 1,700 × 300 cm. Installation view of “Crashing” at Hayward Gallery, London, 2018. Photo by Linda Nylind. Courtesy the artist and Southbank Centre, London. 

Crashing

Lee Bul

A work catching fire and forcing the cancellation of a preview would seem an inauspicious start to any exhibition. The ignition of Lee Bul’s Majestic Splendor (1991–2018), caused by the volatile potassium-permanganate agent meant to preserve the installation’s sequin-covered fish, however, gave the artist’s midcareer survey at the Hayward Gallery a mythic quality. The mishap was a reminder that exhibitions are not static displays, but living, breathing parts of culture, prone to accidents, riots and mysteries. This dynamism was embodied throughout “Crashing”—a culture in itself, curated with an idiosyncratic geography in mind. 

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