"Taking turns can mean feeling things out but it is sometimes hard to know whether the tables are turning or if we are going in circles. There are times when XXX = ♡ but also times when it is quite opposite. Let’s try to get on the same page … shall I put a banana in your tailpipe, so you know how it feels?"
- M.L., 2018
Marlborough is pleased to present …banana in your tailpipe, a solo exhibition of sculpture by New York based artist Margaret Lee. This concise presentation comprises three pedestal-mounted, polished stainless-steel works, and a pair of paper mache clouds, powered by tiny Arduino robots, that roam the floor of the gallery.
Taken together, the group of sculptures engages the balance of power and control in relationships between gender and disparate economic realities. Automotive components become avatars for the engines of desire and love, with the muffler assembly a particularly apt metaphor for the give and take of sex and a metaphorical respiratory system of exchange, combustion and release. Lee’s tailpipes are jammed with proverbial bananas, tied in knots and generally pessimistic about the negotiation, but the surfaces shine with possibility and a giant heart is still pierced with cupid’s arrow.
Their paper construction evoking the handcrafted, the clouds circle the floor in a futile holding pattern. They can be seen as both a symbol of release and negativity—a recurrent reminder that something has to give. The pieces also embody Lee’s ambivalent relationship to technology, sitting generationally, as she does, on the cusp of ‘early adopter’ and ‘native’. In Lee’s hands technology, though often disguised, is everpresent and mildly depressing. It’s promise for liberation and a smoothing of power-imbalances is slow in arriving, and the digital age still has much in common with the failed promise of the mechanical one.
Margaret Lee has organized and exhibited work at numerous venues domestically and internationally including Misako & Rosen Gallery, Tokyo, Japan, The Windows, Barneys, New York, Concentrations HK: Margaret Lee, curated by Gabriel Ritter, Duddell’s x DMA, Hong Kong, China, Made in L.A, 2014 Hammer Museum Biennial, Los Angeles, 2013 Biennale de Lyon, de, da do...da, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Caza, curated by Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Bronx Museum, New York, NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection, Rubell Family Collection, Miami, New Pictures of Common Objects, curated by Christopher Lew, MoMA PS1, New York, and Looking Back, White Columns, New York, amongst others.
In 2009, Lee founded the artist-run space 179 Canal and is currently a partner in the gallery 47 Canal. Public collections with works by the artist include: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Dallas Museum of Art, Dikeou Collection, Denver and the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo.