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OCHI Projects

Young Joo Lee at OCHI

Free

Walking into Young Joo Lee’s exhibition at OCHI’s Aux space off Washington Blvd. is like stepping into some kind of tech retail experience: sculptural iPhones sit on blue pedestals around the space, carpet underfoot; video monitors around the room play a hopeful commercial for “RENEW Corporation,” promising a better life for its workers (and regenerated limbs for those who may have lost them on the job). 

A closer look reveals the iPhones to be hand-glazed and painted with portraits of present day workers at Chinese and Vietnamese factories who make the devices that sit in our pockets. This forefronting of labor foreshadows an animated short film playing in a screening room in the back of the gallery. The film offers a closer look at the fictional RENEW, its workers, and the exploitation of labor masked as sincere interest in workers’ well being via biodata surveillance and regeneration of limbs. This dystopian narrative takes its inspiration from two real-world tech factories (including Foxconn China, where a spate of employees notoriously died by suicide), to imagine a sci-fi world not too far off from our own, in which bodies and human labor are beholden to capitalist interests.

On view: September 10 – October 22, 2022

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Photo: Young Joo Lee: LIZARDIANS at OCHI Aux (2022). Courtesy of OCHI. Photo by Deen Babakyi.