The most eye-catching work in Lee Bul’s Hayward Gallery exhibition is the giant inflatable zeppelin, its grid of rectangular silver panels echoing the grid of skylights in the Hayward’s newly refurbished upper floor. The work, entitled Willing to be Vulnerable, memorialises the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, when the giant airship, representing a possible future of air travel, caught fire killing 36 victims.
In the corner of the same room is another work which less obviously recalls a fatal accident. It is Lee’s most recent work, entitled Scale of Tongue, a created from different textures of fabric draped over a metal armature to preserve the shape. Perhaps if you did not know what it was meant to represent you would not immediately pick up on the reference. But as soon as you are told, the outline of the sculpture obviously recalls the shape of the Sewol Ferry as its prow gradually slipped below the surface of the West Sea.
Inside the hollow hull is a fan which creates ripples in the black fabric which forms the surface of the sea. You are curiously tempted to step inside the sculpture, hiding from the outside world, and thus share the fate of the young passengers who were told to stay in their quarters and await a rescue that did not reach them in time.
Lee Bul: Crashing continues at the Hayward Gallery until 19 August.