A Smooth Exit From Eternal Inflation
A sociopolitical or physical space in which walls are built to limit its subject unsettles the artist, Kay Yoon. She observes that walls are not only material barriers but also invisibly permeate and assist in building larger structures of power. In her solo exhibition “A Smooth Exit from Eternal Inflation,” Yoon navigates a labyrinth of blockades to find the edge of its perimeters and to learn whether an unobstructed openness even exists beyond a seemingly infinite expansion of walls. The exhibition borrows its title from Stephen Hawking’s paper about the multiverse. It serves as a metaphor to explore the forces that control and consume the artist’s identity within spaces she battles to break down walls and find “a smooth exit” from self-perpetuating structures of power. She also applies it to her personal experience of claustrophobia amidst certain social and systematic irrationalities. Within SOMA 300’s exhibition space, Yoon not only maps her installations according to such spatial understandings but also according to her own sensuous memories of claustrophobic moments. Her recollection of these traumatic experiences finds their way into the exhibition through the smells and sounds that serve to heighten the visual nature of her artworks. They also engage the audience to question the walls that confine them and the exits they seek to find. Parallel to the installations, Yoon presents an essay on memories on existence and escape. The vicious incongruity of her internal view of herself and the external reading of her identity in terms of race and gender conspire to entrap her within walls that limit her self-determination. How does she find “a smooth exit” from the never-ending network of walls that give structure to systematic social injustices? What appears to some as freedom of choice and movement, presents itself as a restricted space from which Others struggle to find an escape. In a direct, yet deeply personal way, the artist reflects on the absurd architecture of such hegemonic systems. She sees these brutal processes as structures that turn social concepts like gender, identity, family, and culture into public barriers as well as oppressive spaces of private torment. “A Smooth Exit from Eternal Inflation” is an exhibition that gestures towards the creation and demolition of walls that Yoon has collected from the severity of her experiences.