Maquette for Bunker (M. Bakhtin)

Lee Bul2007-2016

Manege Central Exhibition Hall

Manege Central Exhibition Hall
Saint Petersburg, Russia

Thinking back on her childhood, Lee Bul recalls: “I was always dreaming about some ideal place. And it was always a kind of strange house in the mountains, a bunker concept, but which from the outside looks like just a rock, or a cave, and then inside there was my home, a shell, a space”. Many of Lee’s utopian images channel the theme of a secret place, hidden from the eyes of strangers, like one of the bunkers that were commonplace around the military settlement where Lee spent her childhood. Lee Bul’s installation Bunker combines the utopian theme of a secluded safe haven inside solid rock with the philosophy of Russian linguist and cultural historian Mikhail Bakhtin. Bakhtin elaborated his concept of heteroglossia, or simultaneous use of different varieties of discourse, when he noted the presence of a multitude of different, sometimes conflicting, “languages” within a single language: the high and low styles, the vernacular and the literary norm. Bakhtin investigated the possibilities presented by the use of such forms of discourse together, explored the resulting tension that arises in the discursive field, and pondered a synthesis of various “languages”. Lee Bul, in her take on this, brings together fragments of disparate materials to form a complete work of art. Lee’s childhood memories of military bunkers, fused with her obsession with the perfect refuge, have in the artist’s mind transformed into a reference to the paper architecture of the German visionary Bruno Taut, who in his drawings combined natural objects with man-made structures. Blending into Lee Bul’s narrative, it seems that Mikhail Bakhtin’s ideas tie together parts of a complex picture.


  • Title: Maquette for Bunker (M. Bakhtin)
  • Creator: Lee Bul
  • Date Created: 2007-2016
  • Location: Courtesy of the artist
  • Type: Maquette
  • Rights: Courtesy of the artist
  • Medium: Cast stainless steel

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