Almost all the work of Lee Mingwei (b. Taichung (TW), 1964, lives and works in Paris and New York) is not so much about the creation of art objects as about establishing intimate interpersonal contact. Without the visitor’s active participation, the work is incomplete and meaningless. Viewers receive simple instructions asking them to perform a certain action, thereby becoming a participant in the work. This active contribution to a project makes visitors highly aware of themselves and of the degree to which they, as individuals, are prepared to be vulnerable and to trust the artist and/or the other participant(s), often complete strangers. In the creation of this intimate contact, Lee makes use of different disciplines, such as architecture, dance, music and poetry.
Specially for Brief Encounters visitors were invited by an eight-year-old boy to sit on a chair in front of a woman at a grand piano, which had been placed in the woods. The woman was the renowned Taiwanese pianist PeiYao Wang – mother of the boy, Owen, and a good friend of Lee’s. The piano, Owen’s seat and the chair where the invited visitor sat, were on stages, the shape of which was based on abstract ripples in water, a design by David Lee, Owen’s father.
Wang gave one visitor at a time a brief private concert, while the other members of the audience watched the scene from a distance. She played pieces from Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturnes, 21 works for piano, which he composed between 1827 and 1846. Nocturnes (from the Latin nocturnus) are compositions inspired by the dreamy atmosphere of the night, which were popularised by Chopin.
It was a mesmerizing experience: the innocence of the young boy offering the invitation, the world-famous romantic sounds shimmering through the trees, played especially for you by a master pianist who was sitting right in front of you. Many visitors shed a tear.
production platforms and chair