The Artists of 2020: Leelee Chan
By Chloe chu
The smoke-spewing factories of newly industrialized nations irrevocably altered human society in the 19th century. Mass manufacturing also changed the lives of insects. The originally peppered wings of Biston betularia moths, for one, became entirely black, camouflaging the species in soot-darkened habitats. This was facilitated by the night-flying moths’ evolved ability to detect photic information by extraocular means. Leelee Chan’s Blindfold Receptor sculptures are inspired by this arthropodan adaptation. The caterpillar-like form of Blindfold Receptor (Gulf Frit. Orange) (2020), commissioned for the KölnSkulptur #10 festival (8/2020–7/2022), is made up of industrial hardware, including dense rows of plastic wheels held between two L-shaped steel braces, suggesting the fundamental impacts that industry has had on the metamorphoses of organic life. In the installation Pallet in Repose (Portal) (2019), shown at the first X Museum Triennial (5/30–11/22) in Beijing, Chan similarly refashions discarded construction materials to evoke a natural phenomenon. A wall-mounted collage of an elliptical shape is reflected in a mirror that lies on a wood pallet on the floor, conjuring the moon and its reflection on water.