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Ben Luke talks to Anicka Yi about her influences—from the worlds of literature, music and, of course, art—and the cultural experiences that have shaped her life and work.

Yi creates installations and objects that sit on the borders of art and science. Drawing on research into biology, and particularly macrobiotics, but embedded in geopolitics, Yi’s work calls for a deep sensory engagement from the viewer, with smell as important as sight. In fusing different categories of knowledge, she questions what she calls “the increasingly hazy taxonomic distinctions between what is human, animal, plant and machine”.

Installation view of Anicka Yi’s We Have Never Been Individual (2019) at Gladstone Gallery, Brussels in 2019

She discusses being “possessed” by the formal language of Isamu Noguchi and inspired by the breadth of Rosemarie Trockel’s work; she reflects on the impact of John Ashbery’s poetry and how Donna Haraway prompted her series When Species Meet (2016).

Plus, she gives insight into life in her studio (and how it compares to a laboratory) and answers our usual questions, including: what is art for?

Installation view of Anicka Yi’s Hyundai Commission In Love With The World (2021)

Anicka Yi, Gladstone Gallery, 24th Street, New York, 6 October-12 November

Series 12 of A brush with… runs from 14 September-5 October, with episodes released on Wednesdays. You can download and subscribe to the podcast here. This podcast is sponsored byBloomberg Connects.

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