Michael Joo

MIT List Visual Arts Center

Since 1991, Michael Joo has used materials such as urine, natural and synthetic sweat and salt, sprouting seeds, live and dead deer, and transparent plastic deities to explore themes of transformation, evolution, and shamanism in his drawings, sculptures, installations, and performance-based videos. As seen in this first career survey, though there are direct references to Duchamp’s assisted readymade (as in Improved Rack #1, [Moose], 1999) and to Beuys’s ritualized and romanticized sociopolitical ephemeral props (as in Unpack, 2003), Joo also posits his own brand of intriguing and often darkly humorous questions about race, consumption, religion, and metaphysics, proving his shamanship to be far more than tongue-in-cheek.

The New York–based Joo, who represented South Korea at the 2001 Venice Biennale, engages identity politics with minimalist sculptural installations and ersatz science.

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