Born in Ithaca, New York in 1966, Joo uses sculpture, performance and installation in his work, as well as a combination of scientific language and complex structures that exemplify and parody the potential of form.
Joo obtained a BFA from Washington University in 1989, followed by an MFA in Sculpture from Yale University in 1991. In 1994 his work was included in the internationally acclaimed group show, Some Went Mad, Some Ran Away, curated by Damien Hirst for the Serpentine Gallery, London. His artwork is included in the collections of the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Walker Art Centre, Mineapolis; Denver Art Museum; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm.
Joo has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide, including the Venice Biennale, 1993 and 2001; Whitney Biennial, New York, 2000; Anton Kern Gallery, New York, 2002; the Bohen Foundation New York, 2005; Rodin Gallery, 2006; Milan Triennale Bovisa, 2006; Denver Art Museum, 2006 and the Gwangju Biennale, South Korea, 2006, where he was co-recipient of the Grand Prize for his installation, “Bodhi Obfuscatus…” He lives and works in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
October 6, 2016Barrier Island
6th October 2016 – 5th February 2017 SCAD Museum of Art, 601 Turner Blvd., Savannah, Georgia, USA
March 5, 2015Sharjah Biennial 12, United Arab Emirates
From March 5th to June 5th, 2015
For Sharjah Biennial 12:The past, the present, the possible, Michael Joo will present a large scale installation with new works sited in one of the several warehouses on Sharjah Creek, adjacent to the port of Sharjah.
Sharjah Biennial 12 takes place at multiple sites in and around the city, where over fifty artists will introduce their ideas of the possible through their art.
May 31, 2013Glasstress — White Light/White Heat, Contemporary artists and glass
Collateral Event of the 55th International Art Exhibition – LaBiennale di Venezia
Glasstress: White Light / White Heat will open at the preview of the Venice Biennale on 31st May at the Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti on the Grand Canal and at the Berengo Centre for Contemporary Art and Glass accompanied by dynamic performances from Alice Anderson and Cai Guo Qiang.
Michael Joo's most recent exhibition titled “Exit from the House of Being” is a new series of sculptural works that intend to challenge our perception and understanding of space.
For more information and to see Michael’s installation please click on the link to our blog.
March 8, 2011Interrogated/Deflected
Michael Joo’s sculpture entitled “Interrogated/Deflected” featured alongside Damien Hirst’s prints in our Armory show in New York. Joo’s piece made out of sterling silver and aluminium is a miniaturized version of his larger original zebra sculpture.
See our blog for more details, including Joo’s reflection on his piece.
May 14, 2010Have You Ever Really Looked At The Sun
1st May – 14 August 2010
Haunch of Venison, Berlin
“Have You Ever Really Looked At The Sun” is the title of the much-anticipated collaboration between Michael Joo and Damien Hirst. This full-scale exhibition featured both artists’ work, and included a total of 43 new sculptures, installations and seminal paintings. For more information please see our blog.
January 30, 2010Solo show, Galleria Marabini, Italy
Michael Joo is currently showing at Galleria Marabini, Bologna. The exhibition runs from 30 January - 2 April 2010. For more information, please click here.
October 22, 2009Exhibition at Anton Kern Gallery, NY
Michael Joo will be exhibiting at:
Anton Kern Gallery 532 West 20th St. New York NY 10011 www.antonkerngallery.com
Thursday 22 October -- Saturday 5 December, 2009
Opening reception Thursday 22 October 6:00-8:00pm
Bloomberg TV “Brilliant Ideas”
"Brilliant Ideas" looks at the most exciting and acclaimed artists at work in the world today. On this episode, artist Michael Joo talks to Bloomberg about his life and work. (Source: Bloomberg)
Extract from Michael Joo and Hans Ulrich Obrist in Conversation
Published in Michael Joo by Other Criteria
HO Hans Ulrich Obrist, interviewer MJ Michael Joo
HO: Looking at your very early work, like Yellow, Yellower, Yellowest or Sweat Model from 1991, they still have a lot to do with scientific display. So I was wondering if you can tell me a little bit about those early works and how you made the transition from science into art? MJ: I grew up in a household of scientists. My mother was a plant physiologist, geneticist, and my father was a cattle man, which was very, very different. Growing up with them as Korean parents in the middle of the United States, language was a very precious kind of commodity. Science was almost a more universal language than Korean versus American. So my earlier work, I think, reflected some of this approach. Scientific display was often seen as a language of communication in a way. My jump – not jump but the transition I took to art – was a long-running kind of transition.…
HO: Has the computer changed the way you work? MJ: Yes. I think it’s definitely, suddenly, influenced the way I work, especially with the idea of communicating through images. Communicating with images as well as text or, as we’re doing, with sound – amazing. I think text is really the most incredibly effective tool because it’s really democratic because you have to take time to write it, which means you have to think. But sometimes, you know, I think it’s definitely changed the speed at which I think. The computer in particular means you can work very quickly in formulating ideas around images and around speech – things that are closer to but never going to actually replace human contact.
HO: What is the role of drawing and sketching in your practice? Is it a daily practice?
MJ: Yeah. I still think drawing is this brilliant mediator. It’s a mediator between rational thought and, for lack of a better term, impulsive action. It’s amazing that a drawing can imply both a confidence within the mark and also the restrictions and control you put upon yourself. It used to be seen as a tool and therefore not only intimidating but disposable, but I think in practice it’s a way of dealing with a medium that mitigates between these different types of perception of oneself as a practitioner. I think that’s kind of interesting.
HO: And what about the role of titles? One of the links, I think, to Damien Hirst is that your titles are quite an important part of the work, from Mistaken, I Must Be to Red/Blue/Milk – often quite long titles, also complex titles.
MJ: The role of titles is very important to me. It’s the insight to, potentially, the inner workings of the artist’s intent. To me, I think, information about work exists upon several levels: you know, primary, secondary, tertiary information. Matthew Barney and I used to have this discussion, you know, a long time ago, about what’s valid information about the work and how you project upon the idea of the work’s future – without imagining that the work has some kind of glorious future, but a future within one’s expression and one’s intentionality. I found that the idea of titling, I feel like it’s a space for me to exist. While somewhat cryptic, they can eventually, if examined, leave potential clues to the works’, kind of, intentionality or the root of the work. For instance, Remote Sense (Alpha Helix) is still both about science and also about the idea of telemetry and projection along the lines of ESP, as we know it. It still has the kind of structure of this alpha helix, which is a kind of primary structure, so to me it encompasses both the idea of structure as well as the idea of projection. Projection is something that’s intrinsic to that piece. The object sculpture itself is viewable and yet, in the space it’s presented, presents the perspective of the sculpture through infra-red cameras placed inside the sculpture at the same time. One has to be in two places at once. The title itself provides clues to my intention….
HO: One of the things in your recent work also is the presence of animals. I was wondering if it’s about some form of idea that these animals are some kind of reservoir of knowledge, maybe, which we don’t know enough about?...
MJ: In a way, with the recent things, the idea of the animal, the idea that it’s a reservoir of knowledge, is potentially readable because nature is still about pure context. There is no nature without us and we are human beings because it’s unaware of us – incredibly…not cruel, that’s too anthropomorphising, but it’s incredibly unforgiving and romantic. Therefore, it can kill you and yet it’s what you desire. And so the use of these animals is objectification of nature and therefore maybe an objectification of context. I think I’ve become increasingly interested in the idea of objects as implying and being able to embody context and not just a superficial kind of plastic object in the world already brimming with too many objects and too many consumer goods.
HO: There is a note in your writings where you actually refer to a kind of natural object as a readymade. Are the animals a natural object as readymade?
MJ: Yes. Most directly in the Improved Rack group, in which I’m definitely very interested in the idea that the antler, for instance – which I think I initially got into through my own Korean background and my, kind of, familial interest in Chinese medicine – was that this antler, which is about growth, is both a weapon and a display device…perhaps a flaw in design in nature, because nature would just usually be perfect. For some reason it’s dictated that this structure, this kind of weapon, is placed about 3 centimetres from the brain, and I find that kind of placement very interesting and very odd. [reintroduced from original recording] So to stretch those out and improve them upon design is of interest to me. Hence the idea that its an improved rack with all it’s requisite implications of, of course, Duchamp and stuff. So I was very curious about the idea of flaws in design of nature as pointing out the fact that they’re also constructs because we decided this thing has a certain anthropomorphic value. I was very curious about it’s connection then to the readymade – anything in nature. Or the extension of the found object as being reidentified as something more than found object but implicated within a larger structure….
HO:I wanted to ask you about your groundbreaking piece the Salt Transfer Cycle, which is a piece which resonates very strongly in my memory. One can say the medium is maybe not video but the medium is maybe salt. MJ: Yeah. Salt Transfer Cycle for me was really, you know, in the face of this kind of identity politics that we were wading in in New York at the time, in ’92…a kind of meditation maybe, if you will, upon the idea of essentialism versus a mediated kind of technological existence and the idea of mediated reality versus perception of reality, conceptualism versus essentialism. The groundwork for me, which is still what I work in, is the idea of whether or not the abstract and the representational can coexist. And the premise was very simple: can you take an idea, a set of symbols – which for me was distilled, in this case, into MSG [monosodium glutamate] as the idea of spice or taste or flavour, which is…you know, viewed as synthetic – and transfer this idea? In the studio I swim through 2,000 pounds of MSG. Suddenly the character, myself, is confronted with the reality of salt in Bonneville salt dessert, where I remember in the ’70s race cars being run for world record speeding runs. Again, linearity – incredible, extreme linearity, which is record setting, which is a goal that is meant only to be broken, right? The action I performed was a parity of evolution – another linear effort. And then my own body generated its own salt as a by-product of that human energy. That salt then led me to transport the character into a hyper-real situation and also a fantastic situation in the mountains of South Korea, where I waited for ten days for wild elk to lick that salt off my body, therefore transferring the purely conceptual and artificial idea into reality, exemplified by the bloodstream of the elk themselves. So I was very interested in that idea: that there could be a chain of events and a chain of concept as intention that could actually get an art idea, an idea generated in the studio, into reality.
Audio edit: Michael Joo and Hans Ulrich Obrist in conversation
Arte Journal: Damien Hirst and Michael Joo, May 2010
Damien Hirst and Michael Joo talk about their joint exhibition, 'Have You Ever Really Looked at the Sun?' on show at Haunch of Venison Berlin from May-August 2010. Watch it here at Arte Journal.
Art Review: Issue 41, 2010
Art Review's editor, Mark Rappolt, meets Michael Joo ahead of the opening of his joint exhibition with Damien Hirst at Haunch of Venison Berlin. Download it here.