Daniel Birnbaum

RED MEANS OCCUPIED, GREEN MEANS VACANT. Although Haegue Yang has lived in Europe since the mid-’90s (first in Frankfurt, now in Paris), she can’t keep herself from knocking on the bathroom door instead of simply checking the color before entering. This creates bewilderment for all involved. There are computer programs that translate between languages—Korean and German, say—and no doubt they are getting more sophisticated by the day. But they will never eliminate the ambiguous zones in which this thirty-one-year-old Korean artist operates. In Sonderfarben (Particular colors; Wiens Verlag, 2001), one of the most carefully crafted artist’s books I’ve come across in recent years, Yang spells out an entire poetics based on misreadings and the limits of translation. It’s not just about the meaning of words; it’s about the predicament of living between languages: about referring to

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