David Zink Yi (b. 1973, Lima, Peru) studied at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts, then at the University of the Arts in Berlin, Germany. He has presented numerous solo exhibitions including 'Why am I here and not somewhere else – Independencia II', Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany (2013); MALI Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru (2012); Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, Germany (2012); and 'Horror Vacui', Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis MN (2011). His works have also been featured in group shows at Tate Modern, London, England (2012); National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway (2012); and at the 10th Bienal de La Habana, Havana, Cuba (2010). Zink Yi was included in the Latin American Pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale.
Yi’s abstracting gaze, channeled through the alternating current of a two-panel video installation, juxtaposes and deconstructs the syntax of Afro-Cuban polyrhythms through the lens of ritual and rehearsal. Itself a form of visual syncopation, the video shifts its accents to unexpected foci: a hand manipulating a rod to tap out a beat; lips kissing air through a saxophone’s bell; a face sweating with the exertion of its distant body. The distinctions between limb and tool, agent and object, instrument and organism, are eliminated. The music unites them as nonhierarchical beings in an ecology of sound. Not one would be free without the others—not the drum, not the drumstick, not the hand, not the man, and not the music.
Afro-Cuban music, Diedrich Diederichsen has written, perpetually encounters the possibility of death. A living music unrestrained by compositional temporality, it could continue ad infinitum. Endlessly expanding, it absorbs musicians, singers, and listeners as it pours forth. It is impossible to stand far enough away to see it in its totality, because no one is detached; each is spoken to, each complicit. What does it mean to view this work in the white-box gallery? The experience must be isolated, insulated; one enters a triangular room but, once inside, finds it formless, uterine, demarcated by sound. The viewer must disentangle herself or else remain enraptured, lost and yet found, forever. When she exits the chamber, the cold, white light of the gallery strikes her eyes and she knows death. Thus does Zink Yi reveal Afro-Cuban culture as a hyper-object, anchored to an archaic ontology endlessly restructured by its actors. This negotiation between dissolution and reemergence—of self, of time, of place—occurs between contending gravitational forces. The struggle may spontaneously collapse into a singularity that rapturously swallows all involved: the Horror Vacui taking centerstage at the CAC.