Mega-cities define the modern world. Over only a few decades, vast metropolitan organisms have become the most common habitat for all human life, and in Asia in particular, the transition has been lightning fast. For two young artists - Suhasini Kejriwal from India, and Young In Hong from South Korea – examining our relationship with the modern city is fundamental to understanding our world today. After many years of friendship and intellectual collaboration, Maximum City is their first exhibition together.
Suhasini Kejriwal takes the raw materials of the city as her starting point. Her painted fibreglass sculptures recreate formal arrangements of everyday objects: fruit, shoes, pots and pans, bricks, wheels, advertisements, junk… Like monuments to the jumble of daily life, they suggest how the high ideals of Progress are manhandled into practice by human beings (those unreliable but indispensable cogs in the city’s machinery). Suhasini’s large-scale drawings of city life take the viewer into this same all-enveloping environment via a different route. Their size, cinematic breadth, and almost indigestible volume of detail create an overwhelming intensity. This is the metropolis as it lives and breathes, sustaining and suffocating at the same time. By following the city’s relentless logic of accumulation in constructing her work, Suhasini highlights the frequent mismatch between idealism and the human realities it seeks to govern.
From a different perspective, Young In Hong looks at the fragility of identity in the face of rapid change. Her monumental embroidered tableaux stitch together disconnected images as a means of probing the processes of decontextualisation. By re-framing familiar images and motifs into irrational contexts, Young In explores the idea of “fluid identity” – as if the individual were cut adrift on the sea of references that the city continuously throws up. In her video piece she shifts focus to the concept of the community, in this instance of a former Korean mining town where the government established a casino to revitalise the economy. Invited to march across the town wearing bright orange, the Miners’ Orange parade depicted a collective identity caught in the teeth of a grand economic agenda. At both individual and communal levels, Young In uses her work to question the idea of continuity within an environment of constant change.
The title Maximum City is taken from the book by Suketu Mehta, which Suhasini gave to Young In in 2006 because it articulated many of the ideas they both grappled with. In it, Mehtu returns to Mumbai (the Bombay of his youth) to discover a mutated, sprawling megopolis riddled with poverty, crime and corruption, but which is nevertheless fascinating and mesmerising. The book was to become the catalyst for a creative collaboration that has spanned several years and many thousands of miles. Six years later, the result is Maximum City.
About the Artists
Suhasini Kejriwal studied Fine Art at Parsons School of Design in New York 1995-98, and graduated with her MFA from Goldsmiths in 2006. She has exhibited widely at international level, with solo exhibitions including Art Dubai 2012, Galerie Christian Hosp Berlin 2010, Anokhi Museum Jaipur 2009, Chemould Prescott Road Mumbai 2008 and Nature Morte New Delhi 2007. Recent group exhibitions including Misa Shin Gallery Tokyo 2011, San Jose Museum of Art 2011, The World Economic Forum, Davos 2011, Essel Museum Austria 2010, and Art Basel 2010. Her work is held in public and private collections worldwide. Suhasini lives and works in Kolkata, India.
Young In Hong received her MFA in Sculpture from Seoul National University in 1998, and her MFA from Goldsmiths in 2000. In 2011 she completed her PhD at Goldsmiths. She has had a number of site-specific projects including Double Encounter at i-myu Projects, London 2010, and The Performing City in Aicho, Japan 2005. Recent group exhibitions include the Museum of Art and Design, New York 2011, Rokeby Gallery London 2009, and A Foundation Liverpool 2008. Her work featured in the first edition of the Korean Eye at the Saatchi Gallery in 2010, and she won the Kimsechoong Art Prize in Korea 2011. Public collections include Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art (Korea), Sabuk Coal Museum (Korea), and Korean Eye, London. Young In lives and works between London and Seoul.