1. Space is a word that makes something of the nothing that surrounds us. Continuous and everywhere identical, space, once it is designated as such, can be subdivided into spaces. A line drawn in the sand gives two sides to space; a wall erected on the line fortifies the division; and with the addition of adjoining, enclosing walls, an interior is excerpted from the exterior. But were this structure left without any opening, it would merely be a thing in space. The delimiting function of walls would amount to nothing without the addition of entrances and exits.
2. During his period of exile in Los Angeles, Theodor Adorno heard sounds of slamming all around him. “What does it mean for the subject that there are no more casement windows to open, but only sliding frames to shove, no gentle latches but turntable handles, no forecourt, no doorstep before the street, no wall around the garden?” The attrition of the threshold in the American home, while seeming to promise greater transparency to the street and a refreshed spirit of civic conviviality, does just the opposite. All attention is drawn toward the remaining barrier, which takes on a sinister and oppressive mien. Particularly vexing for him was this “turntable handle” – the industrialized retooling of the old lever handle – the doorknob. “Thus,” he writes, “the ability is lost to close a door quietly and discretely, yet firmly.” A whole dialectics of outside and inside dissolves around the turn of the wrist coaxed by this domestic accessory.
3. Witches, as they appear on the television sitcom Bewitched (1964-1972), are figures perfectly at home in continuous space. Doors present no obstacle to them. With an effortless snap of the fingers or a twitch of the nose they can pierce the rigid boundaries of private life, a wanton transgression of the spatial economy of mid-century suburbia. The show’s protagonist, Samantha, must suppress her magical powers to suit the wishes of her continually alarmed husband, Darren. This is a problem, although it pales next to that of her Aunt Clara, whose powers are on the wane. Unable to clear the hurdle of the door in her old age and encroaching senility, Aunt Clara becomes a fetishistic collector of doorknobs.
4. “Aunt Clara’s Dilemma” is an exhibition by Won Ju Lim about doorknobs, thresholds, and the moment when the old dialectic of outsides and insides becomes a mise-en-abyme. There have always been doors, and doors, in order to be opened and closed, have always been equipped with handles. Once they were carved by hand to fit back into the hand. Then machines inherited the task as a standardized ergonomic ratio. Now, the machines, having progressed to customized algorithms, deliver a handle that could directly respond to your hand. As the old model Apple computers once asked, “Where do you want to go today?”
For LAMOA DS#3, the artist created a retrofitted model of the exhibition, "Aunt Clara's Dilemma", currently on view (Feb 25-April 20) at DXIX Projects. http://dxixprojects.com
Won Ju Lim (b. 1968, Gwangju, South Korea; lives and works in Los Angeles) received her MFA from Art Center College of Design, Pasadena in 1998. Recent solo exhibitions include California Dreamin’, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA; Aunt Clara’s Dilemma, DXIX Projects, Venice, CA; and Raycraft is Dead, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA. She is the recipient of the 2015 COLA Individual Artist Fellowship, 2014 Creative Capital Award, 2013 Freund Fellowship, 2007 Rockefeller Foundation Media Arts Fellowship, among others.
Los Angeles Museum of Art (LAMOA), an experimental exhibition space founded by Alice Könitz in 2012, is a “platform for an organic institution that lives through participation.” LAMOA was featured in the Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A. 2014” and won the Mohn Award for artistic excellence. Won Ju Lim’s “Aunt Clara’s Dilemma” is the ninth exhibition in LAMOA DS#3 at Commonwealth and Council.