Start > Ausstellungen > Lee Mingwei: 禮 Li, Gifts and Rituals

Museum Villa Stuck Museum Villa Stuck

27 May – 12 September 2021

Lee Mingwei: Li, Gifts and Rituals

The Museum Villa Stuck presents – for the first time in Munich – the work of Lee Mingwei (b. 1964), a Taiwan-born artist who lives and works in Paris and New York. On view are installations and performances of the past thirty years, which centre on rituals of presenting and receiving gifts, with the active involvement of the audience being crucial. Lee Mingwei presents art as an immaterial and transformative gift. The performance of songs, discussions and contemplative moments encourage visitors to participate. Lee’s artistic practice even opens up ways of coming to terms with the social impact of the pandemic.

LEE MINGWEI: Li, Gifts and Rituals celebrates the giving and receiving of time and dedication. One of Lee Mingwei’s most important influences is the Confucian principle of li (禮). This concept comprises ideas on rites, rituals, gifts and rules of propriety. Drawing on it, the exhibition examines gestures of hospitality and rituals of giving and taking.

In 2020, the exhibition was previously presented under tight Covid-19 restrictions at the Gropius Bau in Berlin. The current pandemic and related restrictions have made us so keenly aware of the importance of interpersonal relationships that the exhibition provides a special occasion to reflect on the value of gifts and rituals as social gestures.

In the run-up to the exhibition, the Villa Stuck launched calls for three projects to get interested people involved. For Fabric of Memory, Lee was looking for textile souvenirs, and for The Mending Project he needed people to be at the museum to mend clothes and, in the process, conduct conversations. The Living Room invites citizens of Munich to display their personal collections in the context of the exhibition.

Central to the exhibition are the visitors themselves. Lee Mingwei’s participatory projects open up a common space in which encounters can unfold. Social interaction as such plays a major role in this exhibition, as does its materialization in the things that can symbolically carry emotions and experiences. Visitors are invited to emotionally, intellectually and physically participate in the individual works, as some works are created only as a result of this involvement. Lee Mingwei sensitively collects personal stories and tells his own, thus weaving a social network of encounters. His art empathically manifests itself as an invitation to engage in dialogue or as a mirror – for dealing with oneself and as a vision for society. The exhibition moves us through direct address, mindfulness, contemplation and encounter. All are invited to be part of Lee’s universe of collective empathy.

The artist’s holistic standards for his own work and the interaction with visitors in the exhibition reflect the relevance of contemporary art in terms of social discourse. Ultimately, Lee Mingwei’s work is singular in its radical way of understanding art as a socio-political statement. This changes the attitude of the audience and institutions alike and leads us to the question how we will conduct ourselves in the future.