Thursday, 30 September 2010

Liverpool biennial - Lee Mingwei

I spent Tuesday morning rambling around Liverpool city centre, touring the Liverpool biennial – an International Festival of Contemporary Art.

I have a fairly catholic taste where art is concerned and am not one of those people who dislikes all forms of contemporary art. My reaction to modern art varies according to the individual piece. My i9nitial response to each piece varies ; it may be ‘OK’ or ‘that’s attractive’ or ‘I like that’ or ‘clever stuff!’ with the occasional ‘Yer what?!?’ (see GB’s post from Tatton Park). A few pieces leave me cold (especially video which is not a medium I enjoy) whilst others have that real ‘Wow’ factor. I have yet to see all the pieces in the Festival but of the ones I saw this week four really struck me as good and one – the Mending Project - had that absolute ‘Wow’ factor. I shall feature the others - together with some of the ‘OK’ and ‘Clever’ ones in future posts

The Mending Project is by the artist Lee Mingwei who was born in Taiwan and graduated from Oakland with a degree in Textile Arts in 1993 and went on to do a Masters in Fine Arts at Yale concentrating on sculpture and New Genre Public Art. Lee Mingwei currently lives and works in New York City and Berkeley, California, but has been over in Liverpool for the first couple of weeks of the Festival and I was fortunate enough to meet him at the Mending Project.

The project, first created in 2009 at Lombard Freid Projects, New York, is an interactive installation involving a 10 foot wooden table, 2 wooden chairs and 400 cones of thread, each of a different colour. Its dimensions vary depending upon where and how he sets it up.

Lee describes his artistic orientation as ‘social conceptualism’. His works are participatory and he invites strangers to join together in such everyday activities as eating, sleeping, writing letters, or, in this case, mending clothes. Visitors are invited to bring along items of clothing that need mending and they sit with the artist while he darns at their side. The concept is brilliant and the setting so simple and yet so attractive.

As the Liverpool Biennial catalogue comments “The Mending Project creates a welcome respite from the humdrum noise of the street and the loneliness experienced by many people living in modern cities”. “At the heart of this is the desire to re-instigate moments of closeness and shared understanding between strangers.”


  1. To participate in his (and anyone's art would be very welcome - especially in big cities where social interaction is often so cut off severely!
    The assemblage or installation on the wall is very attractive! Thanks for sharing, Scriptor:)

  2. If I weren't so far away from Liverpool, I'd definitely go and sit with the artist for a while.

  3. very cool! very interesting! different....amusing....I wonder if he tried to make some sort of image on the wall...did it look as if he did? I keep trying to see if he did. Now that would have been artistic...too....hmmm

  4. Original concept, but are we to accept this as 'art?' Sorry, but it neither appeals nor does it interest me.

  5. Various people saw different images on main wall - the most popular being a map of the world but in fact he didn't have any image in mind.

  6. I can fully understand your view, Jill. A lot of the projects leave me cold and I certainly can't accept video as art. Each to their own, as they say. I'll be blogging some more pieces from the biennial over the next few weeks - we'll see if any appeal to you or if you think of them as art.

  7. The first thing that struck me just looking at the pictures was that if I had an empty room I could probably sort of copy this with all the reels of thread my mother left behind...! (Haven't even begun to go through her sewing desk yet - and I certainly do not have any empty rooms to experiment with.) As I read the text though, I realise I could not copy the rest of it ;) I agree it has some kind of wow factor to it.

  8. Hello,

    Haven’t been able to find a contact email for you, so thought I’d try here.

    Biennial would like to invite you to enter our blogging competition which we have extended until 4th October at 9am – more information can be found here –

    Would you be able to drop me a line – alistairbeech @ hotmail . com so we can talk more?


  9. My e-mailed response was:-

    Hi Alistair

    I'm not interested in entering a competition thanks but you may be interested to know I shall be blogging one biennial project each Thursday for some time to come.



    aka Scriptor Senex

    People often wonder why I don't have my e-mail on my blog. It's to avoid cluttering up my e-mails with blogging stuff (and spam) and anyone who seriously wants to get in touch can leave a comment as Alistair did.


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