Jane Lombard Gallery is pleased to present Narcissus, Nina Yuen’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, featuring two new films and a series of photographs that poetically and intimately explore universal themes of time, death, and beauty. Yuen’s signature assemblages combine spoken monologue, music, and montage to create a fictionalized narrative of her personal memories in a compellingly dreamlike alternate reality.
Through a series of obsessive calculations and rearrangements, the film Raymond chronicles the simultaneous aging of the artist and her father, and their parallel understanding that as her father ages and dies, Yuen will grow and outlive him. Yuen asks her father if he will die one day; he lies, and promises that he will live forever. As the narrative progresses, the lie becomes increasingly unbelievable as the film exposes its own unreliable structure through a sequence of seams and cuts. Yuen desperately denies her father’s mortality, but ultimately must acquiesce to the inevitable. Yet, in its final scene, the film brings new hope in its representation of time – no longer seen as a unidirectional march towards death, but a regenerative cycle. Yuen’s father recognizes that those who die will continue to walk the earth through the lives of their progeny.
Narcissus describes five different relationships with the self: the never-changing watcher of the watcher; the intertwined, codependent relationship; the self-critical internal bully; the obsessive self-lover; and the self without awareness of itself. Using a simple seam of layered video, the artist doubles her image to embody the fantasy of an idealized twin, a relationship that is both physically and psychologically entwined. Yuen describes the many other selves she has taken on as “[bodies] I have entered, and swum up like rivers,” each like a temporary sheath or costume that a more permanent self can crawl into or out of. In a final paradoxical and impossible gesture, Yuen splits herself from herself. She tears pairs of twins apart, cleaving her body on the left from her body on the right,