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SEUNG-MIN LEE and MICHAEL SMITH 

ill-suited 
April 22 - May 21, 2022
Opening: Saturday, April 23, 5-8pm

Curated by Rufus Tureen

 
Seung-Min Lee, Subway Drawing 2,  24"x 36", inkjet on satin print-and-stick, 2022

Essex Flowers is pleased to announce ill-suited, a two person show of Seung-Min Lee and Michael Smith curated by Rufus Tureen.  The show consists of two videos, prompted by a drawing made on a tyvek coverall by Seung-Min Lee. The resulting videos, created in tandem with a brief overlap, explore the alienation, fatigue and violence of the last two years.

Lee’s work challenges notions of whiteness, power relations and the “normal” American identity and often incorporates a material imbued with symbolism.  Michael Smith’s work adopts and subverts an array of corporate media structures: in many of his videos he plays "Mike", an average guy trapped in his own mediocre privilege, exposing the hollowness of the American Dream. Both artists use comedy to avoid didactic politics in favor of a space where the audience grapples with their own perceptions.

The exhibit will include a series of live performances on Saturday evenings--
April 30th: 6pm Shaun Krupa, 7:30pm Mónica Palma
May 7th: 6pm Eleanore Pienta
May 14th: 6pm Jaeeun Lee and Seung-Min Lee
May 21st: 6pm Michael Smith and Rufus Tureen, followed by a closing reception for the artists.  
*Note: Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases the Gallery requests masking indoors and proof of vaccination.
“Every project I begin starts with thoroughly trying to find the sources of a feeling of alienation I experience in my daily, mundane experience of being in the world. Rage, disappointment, resignation, submission: these are the internal phase changes that alert me to a rift in my acclimatization to the "best-fit" diagram of a world that assumes a white body as its subject/customer/end-user.” Seung-Min Lee

"I play with the theme of failure a lot, underscoring the idea that life can be a struggle. My work oftentimes is about coping, and Mike, my performance persona is the perfect vehicle to comment on things in the culture that don't quite fit together. I don’t have any answers, just some asides, propped up with attempts at humor." Michael Smith

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Seung-Min Lee is a New York-based artist who has staged work at venues including the Kitchen, Performance Space New York, and Interstate Projects, International Waters, and Essex Flowers. She holds an BA from Harvard University and and MFA from Hunter College.

Michael Smith is an American artist born in Chicago, currently living in Brooklyn and Austin, TX.  He is known for his performances, videos and large scale installations. He's presented the work at a variety of venues and contexts, including galleries, museums, night clubs, childrens parties, puppet festivals, television, store windows, Burning Man and on city streets.

Rufus Tureen is an artist living and working in New York who makes work routed through assumed psychological states that is documented in the form of paintings, photography, performance and video. This is his first project as a curator.