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The Story Behind the Work: Jean Shin 'Chance City'

"Chance City," detail above, is made of $32,404 worth of losing lottery tickets. (By Masahiro Noguchi)
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Friday, May 8, 2009

Jean Shin's work is labor intensive, involving the collection, assembly -- and, in some cases, disassembly -- of hundreds or thousands of individual objects. Nowhere is this more apparent than in "Chance City," a structure made from thousands of losing lottery tickets laid atop and against one another without the use of glue or any adhesive. The largest version of the installation Shin has created so far, it took two weeks to build it, with the artist working with two assistants.

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But the effort that went into its construction pales in comparison to the sweat equity of all those losers -- er, dreamers -- who scratched the silver film off those cards, hoping, against all odds, for a big win.

Their failed aspirations can be seen, quite literally, in the sculpture itself. Already it's beginning to fall apart, by design, thanks to the vibrations of visitors' feet on the floor and subtle air currents in the gallery. Don't wait to see it. By the end of the show a few months hence, this house of cards should have collapsed significantly, much like the current economy.

-- Michael O'Sullivan


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