Terence Koh's latest show is entitled "yes pleased" (in lowercase, of course.) Predictably, the exhibition lacked a press release in the days leading up to the show, offering instead a short biography of Koh's life and work. Lucky for him, the bio is interesting enough to keep our interest piqued.
Koh, a Chinese-Canadian artist, first broke into the scene as asianpunkboy, a transgressive artist who created zines, a hilarious website and custom made books. He later retired this persona in favor of using his birth name, yet never lost his flair for masks and theatrics. If you've seen him out, Koh is always dressed in white -- most often furs -- and lives in white spaces. Despite the appearances of purity, his bio remains murky. (For example while The Fireplace Project lists his birth year as 1980, The New York Times pinpoints it at 1977.
He speaks a somewhere between an internet crazed middle schooler, a postmodern poet and Yoda. For example, his website's invitation to this show reads: "deer friend/this saturdae, dee opening reception of /"yes pleased"/ saturdae, july 21, 6-8pm." Sweet, eerie, leaving you somewhere in the dark... his life story, his manner of speech and his aesthetic all line up.
"yes pleased" features Koh's familiar minimalism with the playful transgression that connects diverse artists from Marcel Duchamp to Lady Gaga, with Chris Burden thrown in for good measure. The exhibition features sculptures of eggs, both white and gold, with intensely personal captions that ooze out with LiveJournal levels of unadulterated emotions, in stark contrast to the pure, crisp exteriors of the eggshells. Yet the works are too bizarre to be mushy, with lines like "my son ate my family knot knowing about beauty," blending personal memories with surreal myth reminiscent of Jack and the Beanstalk gone horribly awry, all in this tiny little egg. "big white cock" is the first featured image, a neon lit rooster against darkness. In this case his lowercase aesthetic becomes as provocative as the cock itself.
Koh's previous shows have caused quite a stir, whether circling an 8 foot high pillar of salt eight hours a day for weeks or covering his own feces in gold and selling it for $500,000.00. Yet like the startlingly provocative effect of Koh's lower case letters, his power is in his restraint. Could it be the art world's punk boy is growing up? We certainly hope not...
Terence Koh's "yes pleased" is showing at The Fireplace Project in the Hamptons until August 12, 2012