Cheon pyo Lee charts the idiosyncratic nature of value.
Cheon pyo Lee is a New York-based artist whose multidisciplinary practice is grounded in notions of absurdity, play, and experimentation. While studying for his MFA at Yale University in 2010, Lee hired a surrogate to play himself during studio visits; the surrogate fielded questions about the artist’s practice as well as his broad international background (Lee was born in Korea in 1980, but grew up in Paraguay before studying art in the United States). At the heart of Lee’s work is a mischievous but resolute desire to subvert systemic notions of value and authenticity through personal encounters and experiences. For his first solo exhibition at Interstate Projects in New York, Lee created “Chinese Waterfall” (2012), a kinetic sculpture made from bill counters and conveyor belts that continuously rotates dollar bills with the help of visitors. This year, Lee investigated the history of personal video production equipment by assembling a self-contained media cart equipped with electronic news-gathering cameras, a VCR deck, and a propaganda speaker in “Fantastic Collaborator” at Corner Art Space in Seoul.
Lee’s most recent project, “Bureau of Borrowed Objects,” is currently taking place at the Queens Museum’s Queens International 2013. The “Bureau” is a temporary agency that invites museum visitors to submit their personal objects for evaluation, which are then judged qualitatively and quantifiably based on their assumed value by both artist and owner. By reissuing their values, the Bureau encourages visitors to reconsider the worth of everyday things.