Lee Mingwei’s The Travelers
Project launches: September 22, 2010
Exhibition opens: October 20, 2011 – March 26, 2012
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On the day of the Chinese Moon Festival, September 22, 2010, MOCA launched Lee Mingwei’s artist project, The Travelers. Lee custom-made 100 blank notebooks for the project. Released into the world from MOCA, the books will travel around the world for one year. The books are passed from person to person like a chain letter, with each participant adding a personal story about “leaving home” at some point in their lives. Did they have a call to adventure? Did they leave willingly? Did they overcome setbacks? Did they ever return home? Each book becomes a “Traveler” in the project, who leaves the MOCA “home village” to embark on a long journey.
The project was commissioned by MOCA to launch on the first anniversary of its new home at 215 Centre Street, designed by Maya Lin. Inspired by the museum’s mission to document the epic journey of Chinese to America, and the ongoing journeys we make as Americans, the project was envisioned to actively engage the public in the spirit of MOCA’s approach over the past 30 years as a “dialogic museum”.
Participants are asked to send the books back to MOCA by the next Moon Festival, on September 12, 2011. The books that make it back to the museum, each transformed by their individual journeys, will be displayed in an evocative installation by Lee Mingwei, with all the accumulated stories accessible for visitors to read. How many Travelers return home? What kinds of stories will they be filled with on their return?
A companion website to the project (http://traveler.mocanyc.org) tracks all the books as they travel around the world. Project participants are asked to upload the current geographical location of the books, and 5 images that illustrate the story they’ve written in the book.
About the Artist
Born in Taiwan and currently living in New York City, Lee Mingwei creates both participatory installations, where strangers can explore issues of trust, intimacy, and self-awareness on their own, and one-on-one events, where visitors explore these issues with the artist himself through eating, sleeping, walking and conversation. Lee’s projects are often open-ended scenarios for everyday interaction, and take on different forms depending on the participants. Time is central to this process, as Lee’s installations often change during the course of an exhibition.
Mr Lee received an MFA from Yale University in 1997, has had solo exhibitions internationally including Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Fabric Workshop and Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He has been featured in biennials in Venice, Lyon, Liverpool (2006, 2010), Taipei, Echigo-Tsumari, the Whitney Biennial, and at the Asia Pacific Triennial. He is represented by Lombard Freid Project, New York. For more information on the artist, please visit:http://www.leemingwei.com.
The Travelers is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. The project is also made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State’s 62 counties. It is also supported by the generosity of museum members.
Project courtesy of the artist and Lombard Freid Projects, NY
Museum of Chinese in America:
215 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013
(b/w Howard & Grand Sts; one block north of Canal St)
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