A few weeks ago, the Gwangju Biennale (광주비엔날레) censored Hong Seong-dam’s (홍성담) painting Sewol Owol. Many news sources focused on one small part of the painting. With the support of my colleague, Hanna Yoo, I explain and analyze the entire painting in an article for Dilettante Army. See excerpts below and visit Dilettante Army for the full story.
“Censorship and government control is still a major thread at the Biennale, where a painting concerning these South Korean leaders has caused significant upheaval. “Restricting Eyes”: Lee Yong-woo on Gwangju Biennale Censorship by Julie Baumgardner explains why Lee Yong-woo, its cofounder and president, resigned his position—censorship of artist Hong Seong-dam’s paintingSewol Owol. Intended to be part of a commemorative exhibition at the Gwangju Museum of Art (GMA) celebrating the Biennale’s 20th anniversary, the painting is a raw tribute to the tragic sinking of the Korean ferry last spring which killed nearly 300 people, mostly high school students; it is an artwork created in the true spirit of the Gwangju Uprising. When presented to the GMA officials mere hours before the opening on August 8, the officials called a meeting and decided to postpone any decisions until the middle of September. At that point Hong withdrew the painting. In addition, at a press conference Lee stated, “I don’t think it is taboo to satirize a country’s president…Freedom of artistic expression should not be restricted by the government just because they have the exhibition budget under their control” Lee alludes that the government has more say in the Biennale than the public may realize.
Many online sources written in English, including the Art in America article mentioned above as well as the New York Times, the Economist, and The Korean Herald, addressed the censorship. Most of the visual representations of the mural are just a detail that focuses on President Park Geun Hye (such as the detail used by Art in America). Though the reason for censorship, this image is only a fraction of the entire artwork. With the flurry surrounding the censorship, the entire artwork requires viewing and analysis. After the controversy arose, the artist posted an image of the entire painting on his website revealing a vast, dramatic, and visceral scene. If you can read Korean, the artist explains the painting in detail here.”
Posted: September 30th, 2014 | Author: Kate | Filed under: Art Review, Visual and Critical Studies | Tags: Burning Down the House, censorship, Dilettante Army, Gwangju Biennale, Hanna Yoo, Hong Seong-dam, South Korea, 광주비엔날레, 홍성담 | Comments Off on Beyond the Detail: Censorship at the Gwangju Biennale (Dilettante Army)
Image via Art in America
“Norko Realism” by Travis Jeppesen for Art in America gives an overview of the contemporary art world in North Korea. Jeppesen explains the style, “This is a socialist, yet also ultranationalist, “realism” that belongs strictly to the Korean people north of the 38th parallel, and cannot be understood apart from their ideology-infused quotidian life, which has existed for a relatively brief span of time (since the DPRK’s founding in 1948).” He also explains the expectations and boundaries that established for the art community in the DRPK (Art in America).
“Is Yellow Fever an Expression of Pedophilic Tendencies?” The main question of the article asks if “Yellow Fever, is it a multicultural symbol or a pedophilic fetish?” Overall, I think there needs to be more research to support the arguments in the article but this part stood out to me: “The sexualisation of Asian women and the equivalent desexualisation of Asian men is [also] reflected in the American popular culture […]” (Love Love China).
“Defining Racism in Korea” was sparked by controversy regarding racism and the Ebola outbreak; it gives a brief introduction of the roots of racism in Korea. Racism is a complicated topic in most countries and cultures, “Korean racism, however, must be understood differently from its Western cousin, experts say. It is a complex product of the country’s colonial history, postwar American influence and military presence, rapid economic development as well as patriotism that takes a special pride in its “ethnic homogeneity,” according to professor Kim Hyun-mee from Yonsei University” (Korean Herald).
“Wife’s Memory” is a Korean comic (with English translations). (I found it via The Grand Narrative.) The comic is heartbreaking and heartwarming.
On Friday I shared a collection of links as a quick way to get to know what is going on at the Gwangju Biennale this year.
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Not exactly something to read but very important, North Korean exiles will be speaking at a conference next week. “This is the first time that prominent North Korean exiles will speak publicly in a conference about the functioning of this totalitarian state. Some of them have only recently fled North Korea. All of the speakers held important positions in the regime as high-ranking officials, politicians or party cadres.”
Posted: September 14th, 2014 | Author: Kate | Filed under: Sunday Morning Coffee, Visual and Critical Studies | Tags: Art in America, comic, Ebola, Gwangju Biennale, IIAS, Korean comic, Korean Herald, Love Love China, North Korea, racism, South Korea, The Grand Narrative, Travis Jeppesen, Wife's Memory, Yellow Fever | Comments Off on Sunday Morning Coffee [Reading List]
Opening Ceremony of the Gwangju Biennale via gwangjubiennale.org
Last week Art in America was the first Western source to reveal first hand information about the censorship of Hong Seong-dam’s Sewol Owol and subsequent resignation of the current president and cofounder of the Gwangju Biennale, Lee Yong-woo. The satirical painting includes criticism of the current president, Park Guen Hye and references the Korean ferry that sank last spring tragically taking many lives. The Korean Herald also covered the topic quoting Mr. Lee saying “‘From an art critic’s point of view, the painting should be on exhibit. I don’t think it is taboo to satirize a country’s president,” said Lee. “Freedom of artistic expression should not be restricted by the government just because they have the exhibition budget under their control.”‘
Among the controversy, some sources were able to shift focus back to the artwork. Art Radar Asia reviewed eight artworks from the Biennale including Minouk Lim’s Fire Cliff 3. I wrote about Lim’s Fire Cliff series when she came to Chicago in 2013. The Economist also touched on some of the artwork and the head curator, Jessica Morgan. Morgan has continued to progress; Art in America just announced that the curator will be the new director of the Dia Art Foundation.
Posted: September 12th, 2014 | Author: Kate | Filed under: Art Review, Visual and Critical Studies | Tags: Art Radar Asia, biennale, Dia Art Foundation, Gwangju Biennale, Hong Seong-dam, Jessica Morgan, Lee Yong-woo, Minouk Lim, Park Guen H, South Korea | Comments Off on Gwangju Biennale 2014
Lee Bul, Bells From the Deep, 2014 in Beyond and Between at Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art
The exhibition featuring the artists who received the 2014 Korea Artist Prize is now on display through 9 November. Chang Jia (장지아), Noh Suntag (노순택), Kim Shinil (김싱닐), and Koo Donghee (고동회) were selected for the prize. I had the honor of visiting Chang Jia in New York this March and got to see her new work in progress. Here’s a film about all of the artists. Around 18:50 might be of particular interest to my family and friends.
The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art (삼성미술관) in Seoul is having a tenth anniversary exhibition, Beyond and Between, featuring many well known artists from Asia and elsewhere including Ai Weiwei, Lee Ufan (이우환), Kimsooja, Moon Kyungwon & Jeon Joonho, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and others. The aim of the exhibition is to encourage communication with people (e-flux). The online galleries for the exhibition are divided into three parts: Beyond Time, Beyond Space, and Between Art and People. It is open until December 19, 2014.
Mediacity Seoul (미디어시티서울) 2014 began this week. This year’s theme is Ghosts, Spies, and Grandmothers. It runs through Novemeber 23. You can keep an eye on different events via their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Doosan Gallery Seoul (두산) presents Minae Kim’s (김민애) Black, Pink Balls (검은, 분홍 공) until October 4. Kim is Doosan’s artist of the year. “In this exhibition, the artist seeks to examine the contradiction that arises when one ceaselessly aspires to deviate from and overturn the established order, but can ultimately do nothing but move around inside this order. Within this deliberative process, she seeks to create new meaning.”
The Busan Biennale (부산비엔날레) theme this year is Inhabiting the World (세상 속에 거주하기). “Inhabiting the world is an active attitude, a sign of vitality, the will to act upon the world and change it, and this energy, this fluidity, characterizes the city of Busan.” The Biennale opens on 20 September. For a list of participating artists, see e-flux.
The Gwangju Biennale (광주비엔날레) opened last week and runs through November 9. This year’s theme is Burning Down the House (터전을 불태우라). The Biennale website gives a brief chronological review of the themes from the past starting with the first Biennale in 1995, Beyond the Borders. I will be revisiting this Biennale in the coming weeks with an article about some controversy this year.
Another iteration of the REAL DMZ PROJECT (리얼디엠지프로젝트) began at the end of last month and will run through 27 September. So far the website for 2014 is quite sparse but it does include basic information about the project such as participating artists. If you’re curious to see more, you can look at the archives from 2012 and 2013.
New York Times did an interview with MOMA curator and Korean native, Doryun Chong, about how to approach viewing art in Seoul. He discusses rapidly changing history, the new National Museum of Contemporary Art, and weighs in on preservation.
For general viewing of art in Seoul, South Korea, see the article I wrote for Art Radar Asia last fall.
Posted: September 5th, 2014 | Author: Kate | Filed under: Art Review, Sunday Morning Coffee | Tags: Ai Weiwei, Art Radar Asia, Black, Busan Biennale, Chang Jia, Doosan Gallery, e-flux, Inhabiting the World, JEON Joonho, Kim Shinil, Kimsooja, Koo Donghee, Korea, Korea Artist Prize, Korea Artist Prize 2014, Korean Artist Prize, Lee Ufan, Leeum, Mediacity Seoul, MOON Kyungwon, Moon Kyungwon & Jeon Joonho, Noh Suntag, Pink Balls, REAL DMZ PROJECT, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Samsung, Seoul, South Korea, 검은, 고동회, 광주비엔날레, 김싱닐, 노순택, 리얼디엠지프로젝트, 미디어시티서울 2014, 부산비엔날레, 분홍 공, 삼성미술관, 세상 속에 거주하기, 이우환, 장지아, 터전을 불태우라 | Comments Off on Sunday Morning Coffee [Must See Art in South Korea this September]
Still from Sojung Jun’s (전소정) film Last Pleasure (마지막 기쁨) at Doosan Gallery starting Sept. 4
An important tribute to an inspiring, generous, and vivacious person. I interviewed Crystal a few years ago to help spread the word about China Residencies. Now an incredibly successful program, China Residencies is one small part of the vast legacy Crystal left this world.
Ted Lawson creates drawings of his body with his own blood as medium via an IV (via DesignBoom). His artwork includes many different bodies made of various media such as blood, resin, steel, and found objects. Aspects of Lawson’s work are reminiscent of Choi Xooang’s work.
SAIC’s Conversations at the Edge schedule for fall 2014 was just released. Cao Fei will give a talk on October 23. Among many things, Fei is especially well known for the world she created on Second Life. Here’s a tour of it via Art Forum. I’d love to get to Chicago to hear that talk!
An important diagram for people from the United States to keep in mind. We have so much further to go.
“Why I’m Leaving Gagosian” via Art Market Monitor. In regard to the gallery’s impact on the global art market, the author of the article, Kenny Schachter, says, “To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the collectors continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Gagosian is one of the world’s largest and most important galleries and it is too integral to the global art market to continue to act this way.”
A Journal of the Plague Year. Continental Fear. Islands, ghosts, rebels opened at Arko Art Center in Seoul yesterday. I saw this exhibition last year in Hong Kong at Para Site and highly recommend it. The exhibition features a plethora of artists, some are internationally known like Ai Weiwei. The exhibition, “… departs from and remains strongly connected to an exploration of the events that affected Hong Kong in the spring of 2003: the most significant airborne epidemic in recent years, the SARS crisis, coupled with the tragic death of pop figure and pan-Asian icon Leslie Cheung” (e-flux).
Posted: August 31st, 2014 | Author: Kate | Filed under: Art Review, Body, Sunday Morning Coffee | Tags: Ai Weiwei, Arko Art Center, art market, Art Market Monitor, blood, body, Cao Fei, CATE, China Residencies, Choi Xooang, Conversations at the Edge, Crystal Ruth Bell, Doosan Gallery, Gagosian, Hong Kong, Kenny Schachter, Last Pleassure, Leslie Cheung, Para Site, pop, SAIC, SARS, Second Life, Sojung Jun', Ted Lawson, 마지막 기쁨, 전소정 | Comments Off on Sunday Morning Coffee
Byeong Sam Jeon’s Dialogueye II (2013)
Byeong Sam Jeon (전병삼) is giving an artist talk at SAIC this afternoon. Based on a visit to his website, I was intrigued by Wind From West (2014) and Dialogueye II (2013).
“Don’t be that dude: Handy tips for the male academic” by Tenure, She Wrote.
Should this be NSFW? Calling on Jenny Saville, Egon Schiele, and Lucian Freud!
10 female artists from Nepal via Art Radar.
Sung Hwan Kim (김성혼) at Art Sonje Center (아트선제센터) from 30 August to 30 November via e-flux. According to e-flux, “The title of the exhibition, Life of Always a Mirror, is a play on words in Korean on a Korean elementary school textbook’s title, Joyful Life. This method of education merges music, art, and physical education into a single subject as a didactic gesture in public education that teaches the youth not only knowledge but also the way they should lead a joyful life.”
Along with a salute to my former city, I should share that I plan to attend an event with Jung Rae Bae at the Asian Art Museum here in San Francisco.
Posted: August 25th, 2014 | Author: Kate | Filed under: Art Review, Sunday Morning Coffee | Tags: Art Radar, Art Radar Asia, Art Sonje Center, Asian Art Museum, Chicago, Egon Schiele, Jenny Saville, Jung Rae Bae, Lucian Freud, Nepal, SAIC, San Francisco, Sung Hwan Kim, 김성혼, 아트선제센터 | Comments Off on Sunday Morning Coffee
Female cartoonists drawing their bodies. I especially like number 2 by Katie Green and number 8 Lucy Knisley. All of the drawings gave me a sense of camaraderie and mutual understanding.
20 Essential K-Pop Songs according to Pitchfork. K-Pop aficionados, do you agree? Are these essential? My K-Pop favorites like Nobody and Sorry, Sorry are a bit dated.
At the beginning of September, the Leeum and Gwangju Biennale are presenting a forum, “Expanding Experiences in Art.” via e-flux
“Enter Pyongyang” is an observational film of the capital of North Korea created by JT Singh and Rob Whitworth. It’s an interesting watch and does show the capital in a less common light. Though, I can’t help but be distracted by what lays beyond the capital and what isn’t pictured.
Despite not living there anymore, Chicago and the people in it are still close to my heart. In honor of that, check out Zane Davis’s new Tumblr dedicated to a Chicago bridge.
For anyone who is curious, I’m based in San Francisco now.
Posted: August 17th, 2014 | Author: Kate | Filed under: Body, Sunday Morning Coffee | Tags: bodies, body, cartoon, Chicago, drawing, female body, film, Gwangju Biennale, JT Singh, K-Pop, Katie Green, Korea, Leeum, Lucy Knisley, North Korea, Pitchfork, Pyongyang, Rob Whitworth, Seoul, South Korea, Super Junior, Wonder Girls, Zane Davis, 슈퍼주니어, 원더걸스 | Comments Off on Sunday Morning Coffee [from San Francisco]
Image above Lee Seung-hoon’s Plastic Surgery #01 via Korean Herald
Momsal (몸살), literally meaning body ache, examines the body as a site that represents the distress and aches of society. According to the Korean Herald, the exhibition at Sungkok Art Museum (성곡미술관) features six artists four of which are South Korean: Shin Je-heon (신제헌), Lee Sun-haing (이선행), Lee Seung-hoon (이승훈), and Black Jaguar (흑표범), and two from abroad: Sigalit Landau (Israel) and Cui Xianji (China). Above and below are some images of the artwork from the exhibition.
Black Jaguar, Giant–Monster, 2013, 150 x 100 cm, Digital Print
The first image in this post, Lee Seung-hoon’s Plastic Surgery #01, initially drew me to this exhibition. The marks on the people’s faces in the photographs recall battle paint. Cosmetic surgery is in a way a form of battle paint; it distorts the original likeness so that one can achieve greater success, or so they hope. The melancholic expression combined with the quickly painted child-like marks create a layered view into not just the act but also the person. While looking at Lee’s images I came across an opinion piece written for the New York Times by Han Kang about cosmetic surgery in South Korea. Kang describes looking at the before and after images, “Whenever I look at these pictures, it’s the ‘before’ face that I’m drawn to: the face that has been discarded; the one that has disappeared from the world forever.” Read the rest of Kang’s essay here. If you’re interested in more details, here’s some information from the Economist.
Lee Sun-haing, Place to Rest, 2013
It is easy to become distracted by cosmetic surgery when approaching the concept of the body and South Korea. This exhibition appears to have moved beyond that and addressed further corporeal themes. Alongside the images above, there is a bust of Damien Hirst, a video called Mermaids [Erasing the Border of Azkelon], and more. To see further images you can visit the museum website linked above and there is also an essay in Korean about it here.
I initially found this exhibition through The Korean Herald in “Depictions of ‘body aches’ in modern society” by Lee Woo-young.
Posted: April 16th, 2014 | Author: Kate | Filed under: Art Review, Body | Tags: aches, Black Jaguar, body, China, cosmetic surgery, Cui Xianji, Israel, Korean Herald, Lee Seung-hoon, Lee Sun-haing, modern society, Momsal, New York Times, plastic surgery, Seoul, Shin Je-heon, Sigalit Landau, Sungkok Art Museum, 몸살, 성곡미술관, 이선행, 이승훈, 흑표범 | Comments Off on (몸살) “Body Ache” Art Exhibition in Seoul, South Korea
Image Via Design Boom
South Korea is a country known for how quickly it went from being one of the poorest to one of the richest countries on the globe. This quick transition is captured in many ways. In this case, Sungseok AHN demonstrates Korea’s landscape in layered photographs of the past and present. To see how the artworks were displayed visit the artist’s website.
Posted: April 14th, 2014 | Author: Kate | Filed under: Art Review | Tags: Ahn Sungseok, cityscape, DesignBoom, economy, history, Korea, landscape, photography, South Korea, Sungseok Ahn, urban | Comments Off on Korean Landscape, Photographs by Sungseok AHN
An image I took in 2011 of Lee Yongbaek’s “Pieta”
I wrote an article for Art Radar Asia about the top resources for contemporary South Korean art:
“The digital sphere offers a relatively limited number of resources on contemporary South Korean art in English, especially compared to Korea’s East Asian neighbours. Although online resources for English-speaking art professionals are becoming more abundant, a need still exists for varied and critical debate among the online art community.
To help you make the most of South Korea’s exciting art scene, here are the best online resources that feature contemporary Korean art. Ranging from online archives to critical reviews, as a collection these virtual spaces allow anyone with internet access to delve into the rich contemporary art scene flowing out of the Korea peninsula.”
To read the entire article click here!
Posted: April 10th, 2014 | Author: Kate | Filed under: Art Review, Visual and Critical Studies | Tags: Art Radar, Art Radar Asia, contemporary art, online, resources, South Korea | Comments Off on “Top online resources for Korean contemporary art” (Art Radar)