Hyejin Song’s Punkish stockings at the School of the Visual Arts in New York


–>Elizabeth visits Hyejin Song’s open studio in New York and revisits thoughts about Louise Bourgeois’s mama spiders and the Punk rebellion. –the artblog editors——————–>

Visitors to Hyejin Song‘s one-night open studio at the School of the Visual Arts were greeted by meandering lengths of razor-cut, stretched women’s stockings that alluded to feminine strength and resiliency. The airy and transparent material switched back and redoubled in strength as it skittered across the wall and floor, evoking the visible wake of Louise Bourgeois’s spider sculptures. In Bourgeois’s Maman, the dread and fear evoked by the matriarch’s knobby, batwing-arched legs is paired with the more positive associations of clever skill and motherly protection; the Korean artist’s work similarly references both the positives and negatives of womanhood. The installation, which followed Song’s second Summer Residency at SVA, also channels a kind of sadness that I associate with Ernesto Neto’s drooping organic forms.  Both Song and Neto address the feelings of entrapment and freedom within one’s own body. Unlike Neto, Song’s forms flatten out into abstraction, allowing for a less corporeal reading.

Hyejin Song, 2013, photo by Jamie Cabreza
Hyejin Song, 2013, photo by Jamie Cabreza

More broadly, Song’s torn stockings reference Punk and the current PUNK: Chaos to Couture show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The fact that once-groundbreaking music and fashion are now mainstream colors my first read of her work. Safety pins, torn stockings and black leather are ubiquitous today and, as symbols, they have been burnished by time and heavy use. The rebellion they blazed has now dissipated.

Punk was concurrent with feminism: remember glass ceilings before they were broken? Remember women gearing up with shoulder pads, stockings and high heels to climb the corporate ladder? Song tidily destroys a delicate material that both shows off women’s legs and girds them in professionalism. She expresses the nature of our current low-key feminine rebellion: one that fights smaller battles, but on multiple fronts.

Hyejin Song, Open Studios Installation: School of Visual Arts, NYC, 2013, women's hose, dimensions variable, photo courtesy of the artist.
Hyejin Song, Open Studios Installation: School of Visual Arts, NYC, 2013, women’s hose, dimensions variable, photo courtesy of the artist.

The way that Song unselfconsciously dabs glue on fishnet and black hose is natural and genuine. And as I step back and absorb the gestures of the nylon, I think of barn swallows and purple martins flying gracefully, effectively hoovering up thousands of annoying insects, one at a time. I look forward to seeing more work from this promising young artist who allows her materials to guide her process.


feminism, hyejin song, louise bourgeois, punk, ripped stockings, school of visual art in new york


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