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Beatriz Cortez & Kang Seung Lee | Becoming Atmosphere

October 26, 2020 - February 5, 2021

Visit our 360 tour of the exhibition, created by Dollhouse.

360 tour graphic

The air we breathe in, or inspire, has not only a mixture of gases but also the spirit of the time, which inspires us to produce the culture that we know. When we inhale, we breathe in nitrogen, CO2, and oxygen along with the social, economic, ecological and political concerns that coexist in our environment. Climate mirrors the unrestful atmosphere that we live in today. LA based artists Beatriz Cortez and Kang Seung Lee consider the atmosphere as the core of cosmic becoming, a living entity that surrounds everything we know. Becoming Atmosphere, their latest exhibition at the 18th Street’s Airport Gallery, on view from October 26, 2020 until February 5, 2021, focuses on aspects of disappearance, transformation, and becoming. Considering the final work of Gilles Deleuze, Pure Immanence: Essays on a Life, the artists imagine freeing the potentialities of a life from the constraints of identity. Drawing from the writings of Emanuele Coccia, they consider the concept of the atmosphere as “the essence of cosmic fluidity, the deepest face of our world, the one that reveals it as the infinite mixture of all things, present, past, and future.” Their work explores the idea of breathing as a statement against white supremacy and invites us to imagine the potential entanglement of flows towards the future. 

Breathing is the exercise that the artists propose through observations from fortune teller machines, drawings about time and space, a video installation, a series of sculptures inhabiting the space, among other artworks. The multiplicity of media and the various layers of time that these works comprise connect the artworks in a conversation that goes beyond the objects themselves. Through the deconstruction of things and their circumstances, and by making erasures visible while addressing untold stories, the works communicate with each other through the empty spaces that surround them. In this logic, the membrane of the body that divides the outside and the inside may perceptively disappear and lead one to becoming atmosphere.


There was an exhibition opening Artist Talk on October 30, 2020 at 5pm on Zoom featuring the artists Beatriz Cortez and Kang Seung Lee speaking about their collaboration. It was moderated by Associate Curator Frida Cano. Please see the recording below.

On February 4, there will be a virtual talk with art historian and critic Andy Campbell in conversation with the artists. Info below.

Beatriz Cortez, Kang Seung Lee and Andy Campbell | …we will have been together.
Thursday, February 4, 2021 | 5 – 6 PM PST
Online: Zoom

…we will have been together.

Inspired by the future perfect tense, art historian and critic Andy Campbell will reflect on the various historical legacies and speculative futures (as well as the vicissitudes of plant care) at play in Beatriz Cortez and Kang Seung Lee‘s Becoming Atmosphere. Both scripted and improvised, this semi-collaborative talk is devised as a companion to the exhibition, and is inspired by the difficulties and pleasures of finding common cause. Q+A to follow.

**NOTE: Due to rising COVID-19 cases in LA County, 18th Street Arts Center closed appointments for this exhibition effective January 11, 2021. We encourage all interested viewers to enjoy the content on this page or attend upcoming virtual events in order to experience the artists’ work.



Beatriz Cortez is an artist and scholar based in Los Angeles, CA. She migrated from El Salvador in 1989. Her work explores simultaneity, life in different temporalities and different versions of modernity, memory, and loss in the aftermath of war and the experience of immigration, and imaginaries of the future. 

Cortez has had solo exhibitions at the Craft Contemporary Museum (2019), Clockshop (2018), Occidental College (2018), the Vincent Price Art Museum (2016), Cerritos College Art Gallery (2016), Monte Vista Projects (2016), in Los Angeles; at the Grand Central Arts Center in Santa Ana, CA; and at the Museo Municipal Tecleño de El Salvador (2012). Selected group exhibitions include Queens Museum (2019) and Socrates Sculpture Park in New York, NY (2019); Ballroom Marfa, in Marfa, TX (2019 and 2017); Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, WI (2019); Made in LA 2018 at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2018); Commonwealth and Council in Los Angeles (2018); BANK/MABSOCIETY in Shanghai, China (2017); UCR ARTSblock in Riverside, CA (2017); the California Pacific Triennial at OCMA in Newport Harbor, CA (2017); and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, NY (2017). She has received the Artadia Los Angeles Award (2020) and Frieze LIFEWTR Sculpture Prize (2019), the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Fellowship for Emerging Artists (2018), the Artists Community Engagement Grant (2017), the California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists (2016). She received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and a doctorate from Arizona State University. She teaches in the Department of Central American Studies at California State University, Northridge. 

Kang Seung Lee is a multidisciplinary artist who was born in South Korea and now lives and works in Los Angeles. His work explores the possibilities of creating critical, cross-cultural and queer histories by emphasizing marginalized individual experiences and personal histories that challenge singular mainstream knowledge/history. He works in primarily labor-intensive media such as graphite drawings, embroidery, collecting, multimedia installations, etc. 

Lee has had solo exhibitions at One and J. Gallery, Seoul, South Korea (2018); Artpace, San Antonio, TX (2017); Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, CA (2017, 2016); Los Angeles Contemporary Archive, Los Angeles, CA (2016); Pitzer College Art Galleries, Claremont, CA (2015); Centro Cultural Border, Mexico City, Mexico (2012). Selected group exhibitions include National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2020); Daelim Museum, Seoul (2020); Asia Culture Center, Gwangju (2020); Palm Springs Art Museum, CA (2019); Participant Inc, NY (2019); LAXART, Los Angeles, CA (2017); DiverseWorks, Houston, TX (2017); Centro Cultural Metropolitano, Quito, Ecuador (2016); Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA (2014); and Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC (2012). Lee is the recipient of the California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists (2019), the Rema Hort Mann Foundation grant (2018), and Artpace San Antonio International Artist-in-Residence program (2017). His work has been reviewed and featured in Artforum, The New York Times, Frieze, New York Magazine, Artnet, LA Weekly, Hyperallergic, among others. He received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).

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