Equitable Vitrines is pleased to announce a new exhibition by Los Angeles based artist Yunhee Min in its namesake headquarters, two vitrines in the lobby of Koreatown’s Equitable Life Building. It is our understanding that Equitable’s stylized glass-and-aluminum display cases were installed at some point during the mid-nineties, while the building was undergoing asbestos abatement. Details pertaining to the actors involved in this renovation—and to the development, design and fabrication of the cases—remain unclear. We may never know what logic (if any) connected the sanitary impulse to dredge toxic material from the building’s hidden interiors with the perceived need for the placement of two shining vacancies in the space where Equitable admits tenants and visitors. The only thing that we know with much certainty about the history of these conspicuous forms is that they remained empty until Equitable Vitrines began programming in 2014. For about twenty years, the bare insides of our Vitrines were apparent through the vexingly reflective surfaces of the twenty-four tempered glass panes that articulated them.
In anticipation of her show at Equitable, Yunhee took twenty-four duplicate glass panes and laid them on two long tables. Over the course of several days, she moved back and forth among the tables, carefully pouring layer upon layer of colored enamel upon the glass, allowing viscous coats to flow one into another, seemingly of their own accord. Once the paint dried, we removed the Vitrines’ original glass, packed their interiors with fluorescent light fixtures and re-faced them, painted sides facing inward. A visitor to Equitable’s lobby would note that the view through the Vitrines’ panes no longer extends to their interiors, but is halted by the enamel on the back side of the 1/4” thick glass. When the lights embedded within the cases are toggled off, only the very early layers of color are visible. In this state, Yunhee’s compositions reach the surface and mingle with the lobby’s indigenous forms: marble, aluminum, carpet, escalators, ATM, signage near and far, bodies in space, glass reflecting glass. When the lights switch on, her compositions ooze and glow. The panes lose any trace of solidity, revealing and projecting depths of varying colors. As we consider Yunhee’s work, our awareness of the lobby becomes more concentrated: behind the glass, there is paint and light; beneath the carpet, adhesive and concrete. Why are there Vitrines? The escalator isn’t running. We notice grout lines. We think about our eyelids, our guts, our lungs—there’s dust in the air.