Lee Ufan, The Hidden Face of the Moon

Rye Dag Holmboe

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This article examines Lee Ufan’s Relatum series, works which he started producing in Japan in the late 1960s. It begins by historicising the series, where steel plates and rocks are placed in various configurations, in relation to Mono-ha, or School of Things. The article then explores the theatrical and animistic dimensions of the works, which are contrasted with the fetish character of the commodity and the forms of interpretation it demands. The Relatum series is then considered in relation to haikus, together with Roland Barthes’s later writings on the neutral. The article ends by examining the reference to Marcel Proust in Lee’s work, focusing on memory and its relation to affect, while also raising wider questions concerned with the nostalgic character of the Relatum series and the relationship between the industrial and the natural.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-310
Number of pages20
JournalThird Text
Issue number2
Early online date29 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Japonisme
  • Lee Ufan
  • Marcel Proust
  • Mono-ha
  • Roland Barthes
  • Rye Dag Holmboe
  • mono no aware
  • the neutral

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