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Lee Mingwei’s Gernika in sand

Gernika in sand performance

Lee Mingwei
Gernika in sand
Mixed media interactive installation and performance
Queensland Art Gallery │Gallery of Modern Art 2008
Collection: Yeh Rong Jai Culture & Art Foundation, Taiwan

Lee Mingwei’s Gernika in sand

3 May – 6 July 2008
Gallery 3.5, GoMA

Picasso’s Guernica (in Basque Gernika) depicts the massacre of Basque civilians by the Spanish military in the early twentieth century, and is considered one of the most powerfully political art works of that century. Such massacres, of course, are not limited to a single time and place.

The project developed by artist Lee Mingwei uses Guernica as a reference point as well as a point of departure. The artist and a group of assistants re-create Picasso’s famous work in sand over a ten-day period. Midway through its display on Monday 9 June the artist returns to alter the work, destroying it over a period of a day by sweeping the sand using a bamboo broom to create a new work that is characterised by its sweeping abstract and gestural forms.

Rather than focusing on the cruelty of the massacre Guernica depicts, Lee Mingwei points to impermanence as characteristic of existence and larger cycles of destruction and creation.


9 June Gallery 3.5 GoMA

On 9 June the artist returned to create a day-long performance in which he and three assistants moved over the work, sweeping the sand with traditional bamboo brooms. Throughout the day the precise lines of Gernika in sand were gradually broken down and the work was transformed into sweeping abstract and gestural forms, a reminder of the impermanence which was Lee Mingwei’s inspiration for this monumental work.

With thanks to

The performers:
Lee Mingwei
John Rivett
Michael Snelling
Carolyne Jackson

Sandy Wong, Lee Mingwei Studio and volunteers and students from Queensland College of Art Griffith University and University of Queensland.

This project is supported by the Australian Centre of Asia Pacific Art (ACAPA), the research arm of the Queensland Art Gallery’s Asian & Pacific activities.

Gernika in sand project realized at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art with support from:

Lin Ming-nang, Lin Chung-hsiang and Yang Hon-pon