A public garden & cultural center

Yeon Ji Yoo

Call & Response | September 10–December 3, 2017

Pictured above: Kissing Slowly, 2017, paper, grass, gesso, preserved plant material, 96 x 84 x 96 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Wave Hill. Photo: Stefan Hagen.

In conceiving her installation, Yeon Ji Yoo looked to The Diaries of Adam and Eve, a book written by Mark Twain shortly after the time he lived in the private home that is now called Wave Hill House. The text reimagines the Garden of Eden and the inner thoughts of the biblical couple. In her installation, Yoo creates a landscape of the flora and fauna at Wave Hill’s site, presenting it as Twain’s Eden, or as how the writer may have experienced the site. The Hudson River flows throughout the work and over the cliffs of the Palisades, interacting with natural forms constructed out of paper. Yoo’s materials are recycled from her 2012 Sunroom Project, bringing her interaction with the site full circle.

The Fight
Sunroom Project Space | September 1–October 14, 2012

The Fight, 2012, rice paper, plastic flowers, acetate, recycled plastic bottles and cheese cloth, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.

Yeon Ji Yoo’s work explores the cyclical transfer of nutrients, memories, histories, genetic legacies and life’s acquisitions from one being to another and one generation to another. Her art is informed by recollections of the rural farmland in which she lived during her early childhood in South Korea. For The Fight, Yoo’s sculptural installation in the Sun Porch, the artist has created an imaginary woodland composed of translucent trees, flora, dying fauna and diabolical roots. The project is a highly personal reflection on the nature of memory, and pays homage to her grandmother who suffered dementia during the last years of her life. It speaks to the impossibility of holding onto experiences as time passes and memories diminish or are transformed. The artist tries to imagine what the world might have looked like in her grandmother’s fading mind.

In The Fight, artificial flowers and trees exist in dialogue with the adjacent gardens of Wave Hill. The synthetic environment that Yoo has made serves as a metaphor for the desire to recreate the beauty of the natural world, yet the artist can only represent or simulate nature, never reconstruct it. Yoo’s work investigates the aftermath of human interference in natural surroundings that will eventually be recovered and teeming again with microorganisms and a succession of other species populations. The beasts in the installation are a reference to Haruki Murakami’s novel Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (1991) in which creatures are involved in removing traces of memory from people’s minds. Here the animals have fallen on the forest floor; their bodies decompose and are overgrown with plants and roots that absorb the nutrients needed to fuel new life.























The Fight, 2012, rice paper, plastic flowers, acetate, recycled plastic bottles and cheese cloth, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.

Artist website

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Michael J. Shannon; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.