Critics’ Picks

View of “Mimi Park: Dawning: dust, seeds, Coplees,” 2022.

View of “Mimi Park: Dawning: dust, seeds, Coplees,” 2022.

New York

Mimi Park

5 East Broadway #402
February 19–April 16, 2022

In H. G. Wells’s 1896 science-fiction novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, a shipwrecked protagonist finds himself on the titular landmass, which is inhabited by the abominable creations of a mad scientist whose interspecies experiments are a haunting metaphor for man’s disregard and cruelty toward nature. South Korean artist Mimi Park’s exhibition here, “Dawning: dust, seeds, Coplees,” takes on this theme, offering the viewer an experience—simultaneously amusing, bewildering, and horrifying—one might have if one were ever stranded on the dark shores of Doctor Moreau’s laboratory.

Live seedlings in various stages of growth sprout from a pulpy Pangea-like landmass on the gallery’s floor—a carpet of lush greenery with a meticulously crafted topography of rolling vistas, valleys, and basins. The inhabitants of this wondrous land include an array of automated bots, some as small as a matchbox, who live alongside larger bots with humanoid features, reminiscent of Snow White’s dwarfs had they sprung from a cyberpunk noir written by Philip K. Dick. In an adjacent room, the building blocks of Park’s kingdom are categorically arranged upon the floor into an exhaustive indexical display: Bits of string, copper wire, buttons, glass trinkets, bags of glitter, computer motherboards, and more are laid out with surgical precision.

In the main gallery, a single misguided step may result in the immediate death of a Coplee, one of the twelve fluttering droids that comprise Coplee Swarm, 2022. Each one is no larger than a monarch butterfly and fashioned from toothbrushes, pipe cleaners, and electric motors. Another droid, Bristle Bot, 2022, trudges atop a pair of toilet-bowl scrubbers, its exposed wiring surrounding a vibrating pool of water on its back. Watch long enough and you may see this poor creature erroneously bludgeon itself by repeatedly smashing into a wall, its metallic screech begging onlookers to end its crude existence. Wait even longer and this entire world of lush greenery will eventually decay into a pungent pile of compost and metal scraps—but certainly not in vain.