Born in Taiwan in 1964 and currently living in New York City, Lee Mingwei creates both participatory installations, where strangers can explore issues of trust, intimacy, and self-awareness on their own, and one-on-one events, where visitors explore these issues with the artist himself through eating, sleeping, walking and conversation. Lee’s projects are often open-ended scenarios for everyday interaction, and take on different forms depending on the participants. Time is central to this process, as Lee’s installations often change during the course of an exhibition.
Lee received an MFA from Yale University in 1997, has had solo exhibitions internationally including Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, and has been featured in biennials in Venice, Lyon, Liverpool, Taipei, Sydney, Whitney, and Asia Pacific Triennials.
The Living Room, 2013, Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester.
In 2013 Lee brought his projects A Quartet, and The Living Room to Chinese Arts Centre (now CFCCA). A Quartet presented Dvorak’s 9th Symphony, with the composition split across four outputs; in order to fully experience the symphony, viewers must position themselves in the centre of the quadrant: Lee gives the viewer the chance to dictate their own aural experience though spatial dynamics. The Living Room invited participants to occupy the space, bringing with them a personally significant collection of objects and engage visitors in conversation about them. Other Projects include The Letter Writing Project in which visitors were to write the letters they had always meant to but never taken time for, and The Dining Project which involved an after-hours encounter in the museum’s gallery. Through lottery, Lee arranged to have a private dinner with a stranger on scheduled nights during the exhibition period. Four times a week he carefully prepared a meal, according to the dietary preference of each dinner guest, using food as a catalyst and medium for trust and intimacy. The ongoing interaction and dialogue was recorded on audio/video, with the camera lens at the level of the food, as artist and guest sat across from one another at the low table. The following day, the recording was played in the gallery, slightly altered and barely audible.