Artist note:

"I love what working with "ink" does more than what it's about...The process is experimental and cultivating a reflection that is more honest than I will ever be. It reveals my, and maybe our collective, grappling, vulnerability, defeat and wishes in existence in contemporary times. The organic material to make my ink is bovine; loosened and mixed into a sticky pigment. The malleable medium can be brushed, poured and dried into a 3D form. It is fundamentally alive. It has a shelf life, needs to be kept in a cool dry place, responds to extreme environments and elements, and will ultimately complete itself in nature.

I manipulate the material using heat, moisture and cooling tools to create my sculptural works. The material tells me what to do and how far to go. At times, I try too hard to control it and I push, with inquisitive observation, the material to deform completely away into a blot. Negotiating with perfection, decay and mortality is critical. 

Beginning in 2014, I developed this organic ink material after visiting a "water prison" in a preserved Imperial river cave dwelling in Guilin, China. By applying ancient ink-making methods, memory, and alchemy I have been able to transform a traditional heirloom from my heritage and childhood, into my own. It's very intimate and I have to listen, touch and surrender to the ink. It's only intention is to discover the truth"

- Ellen Jong 2022

Mirror Mirror, 2020 

Organic material caution tape 

26 in H x 34 in W × 3 in D, framed

Protein resin, pigments, metal pins, steam

archival inkjeg print on synthetic fabric

MAY 1 - JUNE 14, 2021



Ellen Jong and Yeni Mao

May 1 – June 14, 2021

New Discretions is pleased to present Five Minutes to Live, a two-person exhibition featuring the work of Ellen Jong and Yeni Mao. This is the second of the Home Invasion Series, staged by appointment only, in a West Village apartment.

Though time no longer exists, we are tethered by our personal histories.

Using traditional Chinese methods of ink-making as an entry point, Ellen Jong creates sculptural works that reflect on dynamic personal and collective notions of her identity. Process is integral. Chinese ink is ground from solid blocks, adding water to make a liquid. Jong reverses the process, creating liquid ink and then dehydrating it to sculpt malleable solid forms. Her pigmented ink simulates the plasticity of caution tape, yet maintains the capacity to liquefy when exposed to extreme heat or moisture. "In essence, the ink is alive and always has potential to transform," states Jong. The artist has called the ink "a time machine," in that one must go backwards in both history and process in order to move towards the future of the work.

Jong's two works, entitled Mirror Mirror (2020), examine the quarrels of time. In the first, the cursive flow remains pristine. In the second—a doppelganger of the original—some of the material's pigment properties have been allowed to seep into its foundation. In both, the background is composed of photographic prints of glowing, red-toned sunsets, captured in Los Angeles during the 2020 lockdown.

The sculptural practice of Yeni Mao engages in issues of fragmentation, exploring the subjective body and architecture through restraint, domination and absence. Mao works with agency of materials, objects and building systems, emphasizing the tension between both their embedded and given significance. He refers to his making process as “accessing the lizard brain,” a series of impulses, allowing him to layer his own personal histories over the expansiveness of these concerns.

With fig 25.9 headhunter, 2021, Mao references the story of his grandfather, who he never met, disassembling and rebuilding a schoolhouse in his small Malaysian village. There is also reference to the Land Dayak, an indigenous group with a headhunting tradition, amongst whom his grandfather lived in Borneo. This is work made by and for the body.


Ellen Jong (b.1976, New York) has a multi-disciplinary practice recognized for using vernacular material and personal history to tackle body, form and place. She launched her career as a photographer, publishing two monographs—Pees On Earth and Getting To Know My Husband's Cock. Solo exhibitions have included Basement 6, Shanghai; Allegra LaViola, New York; and the Vice Flagship, New York. Group exhibitions include Whitney Houston/Every Woman Biennial, LaMaMa Galleria, New York; Current: Abortion curated by Barbara Zucker, A.I.R. Gallery, New York; XXX curated by Mathieu Borysevicz, Bank MABSociety Gallery, Shanghai, China; Self-Publish Be Happy curated by Bruno Ceschel, Micamera Milan, Italy; Toy Box with White Box, Robert Miller Gallery, NY. Her work has been featured in Photograph Magazine, The New Yorker, The Guardian, Foam Magazine, amongst others. Ellen Jong lives and works in Los Angeles and New York.


Yeni Mao (b. 1971, Canada) has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including “vol. 1: cowboys” atguadalajara90210, Guadalajara; “vol. 2: cabal” at PAOS GDL, Guadalajara; “Regatta” at Munch Gallery, New York; “Dead Reckoning” at Collette Blanchard, New York; and “Whiskey Papa” at Zidoun-Bossuyt, Luxembourg. Group exhibitions include “Otrxs Mundxs“ at Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; “Los juegos del capricornio” at Arróniz Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City; “Luego, la Forma” at Galería de Arte Mexicano (GAM), Mexico City; ”Transnational” at Proxyco, New York; “The Waste Land” at Nicelle Beauchene, New York; and The IX Bienal De Artes Visuales Nicaraguenses, Managua, Nicaragua. Mao has been awarded multiple residencies including Casa Wabi in Mexico, The Lijiang Studio and Red Gate Gallery in China, The Fountainhead Residency in Miami, OAZO-AIR in Amsterdam, and Flash Atöyle in Turkey. His work has been written about in The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate, The Village Voice, and the Bangkok Post. Concurrently, Mao has a solo exhibition “I desire the strength of nine tigers” at Fierman in New York. Yeni Mao lives and works in Mexico City and New York.


Appointments are available daily from 11am – 4pm. For more information or to schedule an appointment,

contact: benjamin@newdiscretions.com

Ellen Jong © 2020