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Monday, August 17, 2015

When I Think of Home: Won Ju Lim's Raycraft Is Dead

Posted By on Mon, Aug 17, 2015 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge YBCA
  • YBCA

George Raycraft, in the final years of his life, his senility slowly overtaking him, used to pick avocados from his neighbor’s trees in the mistaken belief that they belonged to him. In fact, the lot once did belong to him — but he’d sold it to Won Ju Lim, an artist whose work is currently up at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Lim’s Raycraft Is Dead — her talent for sangfroid titles reaches an apogee with the centerpiece, Bastard — is a psychic blueprint made real, a solid depiction of the messy, entangled relationship that neighbors with bad fences endure.

click to enlarge NATHANIEL WILLIAMS
  • Nathaniel Williams
But if you’re hoping to find photographs of the dearly departed Raycraft, or scrolls of defaced, sepia-toned legal documents under shards of charred glass, there’s nothing so obviously or overtly emotional on display. Bastard, a massive model house, black as a marriage of charcoal and tar, is suspended from the ceiling by intertwining chains of silver. A crank of some kind sends it spinning down towards a white, mirrored platform below, which it never touches, before beginning a slow ascent skyward. The effect is akin to Dorothy’s house swirling in the eye of a tornado, except this house is the witch’s, and it’s leaving the land of Oz to descend upon the quotidian.

The house is an amalgamation of Raycraft’s and Lim’s, embodying a borderless dream space where deeds and ownership of property don’t exist. As it descends, a yellow underbelly of the exposed interior appears in the surface of the mirror. While this flash of color isn’t particularly revealing in and of itself, it hints at a space inside that is inaccessible. Complementing this idea is Corner, another model house, this one white, that abuts a corner of the gallery. An exposed wall is barely visible and easily missed if you’re not looking closely, reminding the viewer of all the hidden spaces readily ignored in your own home, the square door in the closet that leads to an attic, and the midnight thought that something unseen lives in there.

On the opposing wall, a video projection of the shared Raycraft/Lim driveway and front entrance of the houses blurs into a Lynchian diorama that evokes a netherworld. In other words, it could be any neighborhood in Los Angeles where the Hollywood sign flickers on and off again in the unconscious minds of a sleeping Southern California suburb.

Raycraft Is Dead opened in the upstairs galleries along with a second exhibit, Earth Machines, down the hall. After seeing the large room where most of Earth Machines lives, Bastard could dominate that space as it did during its first iteration last year at the St. Louis Art Museum. For an artist like Lim, who is entirely concerned with the psychological impact of architecture, we should expect that Bastard house to pick itself up and land again in a larger space once the exhibit closes there in December. 

Won Ju Lim's Raycraft is Dead, through Dec. 6, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, 415-978-2700.

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