Knockdown Center is pleased to present Tiffany Jaeyeon Shin: Universal Skin Salvation, the artist’s first large-scale solo exhibition, featuring a custom line of K-beauty products and a fully immersive sauna alongside new video, photo, and collage works.
Lactic acid is a bacterial compound found in sour milk, in muscles, and in fermented foods like Kimchi. Recent studies show that lactic acid can fortify the composition of the microbes in the gut, improving the metabolization of bodily injuries and building immunity to post-traumatic stress disorder. The bacterium can also lighten the flesh by exfoliating dead skin and rejuvenating new skin cells, and is popularly used in K-beauty products as a whitening agent (K-beauty refers to the multi-billon dollar Korean cosmetic industry). Shin engages with the concept of “lactification,” a term coined by philosopher Frantz Fanon that refers to the whitening of a race or to make one “milky.”
Visitors are invited to apply Shin’s custom K-beauty products such as lotions, mist sprays, and serums, and enter the sauna, absorbing small amounts of home-brewed lactic acid. For Shin, the active bacterial agent acts as stand-in for bodily rehabilitation from the Korean War and as an extension of the Korean “flesh” enlivened by biological matter. Through this immersive exhibition Shin asks: how does K-beauty’s emphasis on achieving a “glassy” and “transparent” complexion render Korean skin exoticized and impermeable, or plasticized, following the trauma and migration of the Korean War? How does Korean subjectivity emerge through flesh that has undergone extreme processes of cultural possession?
Thursday, December 13
7:30pm: Fleshing Out the Ghost: the Fetish, Desire, and Master in K-beauty
Tiffany Jaeyeon Shin explores the porousness of bodily boundaries and the ceaseless movement of living processes, like fermentation that echo the history of colonialism. Shin is interested in entangling the history of conquest and the literal digestion of material – herbs, medicine, and food – into a new system of relations that emerge from a complicated history of entanglement. Shin has exhibited at SPRING/BREAK, New York, NY (2018), Disclaimer Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2018), AC Institute, New York, NY (2017), Abrons Arts Center, New York, NY (2017), Miranda Kuo Gallery, New York, NY (2017), and many others. Forthcoming shows include Phantom Limb at Cody Dock, London, England and Ghost in the Ghost at Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Brooklyn, NY. Shin lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.