Commonwealth and Council

Condo London 2019 hosted by mothers tankstation

Kang Seung Lee and P. Staff


Kang Seung Lee’s newest work pays tribute to Chinese ballet dancer and choreographer Goh Cho San, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1987. For Lee, Goh embodies not only a specific alterity, but a shared legacy of empowerment. In two intimately scaled graphite portraits, Lee conjures Goh’s characteristic gestures—his arms clenched in embrace, then open. They endure, despite Goh’s untimely death. Lee’s hammock-like sculpture provides a place of rest for the artist and his work, the hemp fabric embroidered in gold thread with a list of the late artist’s oeuvre. There is brevity to the summation, an imagery both heavy and light—evoking the artist’s absent body, yet also the presence manifested in his work: all that remains.

P. Staff’s Weed Killer (2017) is a video installation originally commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. As a partial adaptation of artist-writer Catherine Lord’s memoir The Summer of Her Baldness (2004)—a moving and often irreverent account of the author’s experience of cancer—the work explores the intersection of gender, illness, and cross-contamination in both image and narrative. At the heart of Weed Killer is a monologue, adapted from Lord’s book, in which an actress reflects upon the devastating effects of chemotherapy. This is interlaced with comparatively otherworldly sequences, including choreographed gestures shot with high-definition thermal imaging. As an immersive installation, Weed Killer complicates one’s relation to one’s own suffering and brings into focus the often fine line between poison and cure.  

Weed Killer has been presented at MOCA, Los Angeles; San Diego Art Institute, San Diego; Artspace, Sydney; New Museum, New York; London Film Festival, London; and Images Festival, Toronto. The work is included in the permanent collection of MOCA, Los Angeles and MoMA, New York.  

Kang Seung Lee (b. 1978, South Korea; lives and works in Los Angeles) received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts (2015). Lee has had solo exhibitions at One and J. Gallery, Seoul, South Korea (2018); Artpace, San Antonio, TX (2017); Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, CA (2017, 2016); Los Angeles Contemporary Archive, Los Angeles, CA (2016); Pitzer College Art Galleries, Claremont, CA (2015); Centro Cultural Border, Mexico City, Mexico (2012). Selected group exhibitions include Canton Gallery, Guangzhou, China (2018); LAXART, Los Angeles, CA (2017); DiverseWorks, Houston, TX (2017); Centro Cultural Metropolitano, Quito, Ecuador (2016); SOMArts, San Francisco, CA (2014); Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA (2014); and Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC (2012). Lee is the recipient of the CCF Fellowship for Visual Artists (2018-19), the Rema Hort Mann Foundation grant (2018), and Artpace San Antonio International Artist-in-Residence program (2017).

P. Staff (b. 1987, UK; lives and works in Los Angeles and London, UK) studied at Goldsmiths College, London (2009), and was part of the Associate Artist Programme at LUX, London (2011). They have had solo exhibitions at Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, CA (2018); Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (2017); Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (2016); the Showroom Gallery, London, UK (2014); and Monte Vista Projects, Los Angeles, CA (2012). Selected group exhibitions include Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2018); New Museum, New York (2017); Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (2016); Serpentine Galleries, London (2015); Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway (2014); Maison Populaire, Paris, France (2012); and Whitstable Biennale, UK (2012). They have received the Paul Hamlyn Award for Visual Artists (2015) as well as residencies at FD13 Residency for the Arts (2018), LUX (2014), The Showroom (2014), Fogo Island Arts (2012), and Banff Centre (2010). Their new commissioned work, The Prince of Homburg, is scheduled to premiere at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland, and Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee, Scotland in 2019.