Su-Mei Tse, born in 1973, is an artist from Luxembourg who represented that country at the 2003 Venice Biennale, where she won the prestigious Golden Lion Award for best national pavilion. In numerous exhibitions around the world, Tse has become known for a dynamic fusion of sound and image, whether working with objects, videos, photographs or installations. As a classically trained musician brought up in a musical family, it is not surprising that Tse makes sound a carefully considered element of her work, but it is in her masterful pairing of compelling visuals with meaningful aural elements that we see how much the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
For her exhibition at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, Tse presents a selection of recent video works that place nature in an active dialogue with musical scores. In L’Echo (2003), a lone cellist appears to perform a duet across a deep valley, the mountain in the distance bouncing her playing back to her. Mistelpartition (2006) represents another approach; a long panning shot of trees in winter is suddenly animated when the clumps of mistletoe in the trees become found notes in a musical score. A more synthetic relationship is forged in The Yellow Mountain (2004), in which a mountainous Chinese landscape is slowly acted upon by an artificial yellow sun rising between the peaks, while a traditional song adds drama and cultural specificity to the otherwise banal scene. Works such as this will resonate with the Chinese landscape paintings from the museum’s collections in the exhibition Chinese Art: A Seattle Perspective, revealing an active engagement with and updating of historical models in new media.
Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art