Artist note:

"In 2006 I published my first photographic monograph of self-portraits taken while urinating in public. It started one night in NYC and continued everyday til the book came out eight years later. I was rebellious, pissy and carving out space for my voice that did not exist. I wanted to 'break down the (proverbial and literal) bathroom walls.'* Each image captures the makings of my ephemeral marks which I call 'the existential pee puddle.'* 

* Pees On Earth, Miss Rosen Edition/powerHouse Books

Over a decade later I am working in ink as a fluid extention of my body, of history, of transformation and hope. I am enchanted by the process of going backwards and forwards to reconstruct an ancient organic ink of my heritage that I remember from my earliest painting lessons in my home in Queens NY into living sculptural works...It's a spiritual and existential trip. The ink material is fundamentally alive and the works will ultimately complete themselves in nature.

I begin with the organic matter which is bovine, loosen it over boiling water and mix it into a sticky pigment. The malleable medium is brushed, poured and dried into 3D forms. I manipulate the material using heat, moisture and cooling tools. 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 present and critical. 

I started to develop my own 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 transform a traditional cultural heirloom into my own. It's very intimate; I have to listen, touch and surrender to the material. It's only intention is to guide me to who I am."

- 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