Working ephemeral / by Mirena Rhee

Giant Hands in East Village

Giant Hands in East Village is a week-long site specific installation created over three nights and one day on site at 172 E 4th street by the generous invitation of Chashama -

Giant Hands in East Village statement

The hands are towering structures traveling through space and time. The hands are the pillars of creation.

The back of every chair every pillow every brick every piece of twisted metal, every twist in a cypress, every hand of god on a roof, every red balloon and every little girl attached to it by a string, every pyramid and colossus has been made by the hand. Every city every spire every fence every wall, every gesture of kindness and generosity.

Due to the ephemeral nature of the hands, they gesture and move on. Some of them move if you wave at them gently. Site specific installation created in the space.

In creating shapes and objects I'm looking for truth, an easy state. I love the East village in the sense that it feels true New York City, with all its grittiness and authenticity. I created this installation in the span of three nights and one day and will only stay up over one week as a site-specific object true to the place. I like the pressure of working fast and keeping doubt to a minimum, I like the pressure of the ephemeral. It will never be the same again.

I loved working in the East village this is quintessential New York City, I loved the space I wanted the hands to gesture inside and to rest on surfaces. I also loved all the graffiti and the marks on the windows which overlapped the work inside. In a way I found the graffiti to be more authentic art and a good truth to aspire to. Because truth is what I am after.

Graffiti are good truth to aspire to. I thought the graffiti and city lights reflecting, overlapping the hands pretty special. This space taught me a lot.

As an artist I live a solitary life, I do investigations and create work in private. There is never finished work and there's never a definitive answer.

Working in the East Village was very special. I got in touch with a community I've never had an opportunity to work in before. Artists from the community came to my exhibit and we had hours and hours of conversations about our work and lives, conversations between artists and also between artists and the community are very important. This is the lifeblood of the creative process.

I derive a lot of inspiration from New York City and every encounter in New York City is significant to me, I really value honesty and truth in the work I create, working on the ground at 172 e 4th street felt like being part of a life process rather than a formal and confined studio experience.

This enabled me to do an investigation into the East Village, the people as well as a ground floor windowed space which invited the street outside. For me removing doubt from work is necessary and having to work under pressure takes care of doubt. Working with a deadline towards a definitive goal is very positive as it sets out a pace for the investigation, because my process is an investigation and usually fast pace keeps it true to the self.

Art is at the center of our inner lives, it is ephemeral and not with immediate material benefit. To have sustainable art practice we need sustained effort to support the workers in the “non-material” economy like artists and poets, writers and others. I am grateful to Chashama for inviting me to work in the space.