The edge of comfort: Ting Ying Han

The edge of comfort: Ting Ying Han

When we think of the 'comforts of home,' they are indeed comforts: pictures of our family and friends in frames, a chair in a sunny nook, or soft pillows on the bed. Artist Ting Ying Han, a recent MFA graduate from the California Institute of the Arts, explores an edgier side of recognizable domestic items. A chair is sliced off at the top; the sharp edges and free spindles would jab you in the back. The resin sculpture 'Two Pillows' encases a pair of bed pillows not in soft cotton but bubble wrap, and picture frames are laid on their backs on the floor, the commercial-style image cut out to reveal the backing.

We inherently understand what kinds of items serve a domestic function, placing them within our homes and our 'comfort zones.' Yet the straightforward way in which the artist takes contrary action against them causes unexpected tension, conjuring feelings of discomfort or cautiousness instead. We're forced to assess the way these objects are used--objects that we use or look at on a day to day basis and may take entirely for granted. The method in which we can imagine sitting down on 'It passed and we stay,' calls attention to this everyday utilitarian and yet normally comfortable thing. This work is not comfortable, and in fact it betrays quite a bit of uneasiness. The nostalgic photograph hints perhaps at a distant, half-remembered past. And the title suggests that something has passed this space, probably taken the missing slice with it, and we are left with the mysterious, stoic remains.

I love how Han plays up the power of some mysterious, drastic previous action: the top of the chair and the photograph swiped off or the image cut out of the frame. Installed in a room together, these works would make me a little wary, as if whatever it was that had removed these pieces might come back for more, invisibly removing or encasing bits and pieces of the past. Her work is tactile, sensory, and energetic, and the materials and movements are simple, yet deft in their precision.

Further information and other projects can be found on the artist's website, tingyinghan.com.

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