As Small as a World and Large as Alone (Gangnam Space)

As Small as a World and Large as Alone (Gangnam Space)

Seoul, South Korea Tuesday, January 17, 2012Sunday, February 12, 2012

Seoul, South Korea
Tuesday, January 17, 2012Sunday, February 12, 2012

The story departs from Nomadism

The artists shown in this exhibition all debuted in Korea, but have actively passed through varied terrain of art and cultures, showing their work worldwide, including the APAC region, Europe and the Americas. The term ‘nomadism’ does not simply refer to physical movement but can also be defined as the realm in which the visual gropes and wanders around. The French philosopher Gilles Deleuze stated that the realm of the nomad is as visual nomadism or visual wandering in his book . The work shown in this exhibition is at the centre of the generation who most benefited from Deleuze’s idea. They are free from specific values or certain patterns of life, standing on the boundaries/thresholds of numerous cultures. They fluidly experiment and explore their values and tasks.

We are currently living in a highly globalized world that has benefited from developed transportation and communication. In this context, artists establish their own identities and interests amid perspectives culled from various cultures and political backgrounds. They produce and determine modified end-products by undergoing a process of conflict. Common objects that are taken granted in daily life have been naturally fixed in certain ways in our mind. The works in this exhibition visualize how those stories relevant to those objects underwent the process of appropriation and resolving of personal issues in the midst of such visual nomadism. The artists in this exhibition have modified their work upon encountering new environments and ideology in the process of the free movement of vision. The commonality of the creative impetus that transcends the artists is neither conventional thought nor colossal discourse but a new interpretative attempt to see the already-familiar inside-out through personal experiences.

This is the starting point of the exhibition, . This exhibition should not be viewed as a naïve, vaguely confident challenge to the world. If a nomadic presence sustains itself by limiting itself into/within a certain, un-extendable realm then the non-segmented could be referred as ‘myth/world (or monde)’, starting life at that point. In the end, while it appears that the ‘myth and ordinariness’ and the ‘world and me’ are contrasts, but they are as inseparable as the front and back of the coin, they communicate within a single narrative. This novel view of the conventional structure and the formation of a new order in the process of recombination enables the components to deny what is absolute, yet reminds us of the ardent aspiration toward the absolute. In this respect, we hope to listen to the stories told by the five artists who aspire to communicate with various people through their unique message in regard to the ‘I’, still mounted on an ambiguous threshold.

Nayoungim & Gregory S. Maass have shown collaboratively since 2004 in France and have included various narratives acquired from encountering heterogeneous environments and cultures in Europe and Asia. They portray trifling stories and scenes, and candidly convey the inspiration earned from the attitudes of the people who look upon them. Nayoungim & Gregory S. Maass invite various cultures, appropriated and modified, ranging from common daily objects, kitsch or borrowing other artists’ works; they even present humorous works by re-editing or retelling stories from famous movies or novels. is made out of miniature plastic figures (finger-size) that can be easily bought at souvenir shops around the world. They dismantled and reassembled their bodies with different limbs taken from other figures. Then they recolor them, creating whole different relationships. These figures are varied in shape, size and colour, allowing their reassembled end-product to show a whole different figure with disproportionate limbs. Most of the figures are paired, but the relationships of the pairs are not heterogeneous, meaning they cannot be totally whole, or one.

Meekyoung Shin regards the role of the thoughtful artist as portraying what she (as Metaxy, middle-ground or in-between concept from Plato) sees and feels from a distance in visual art form; slightly detached from ‘what is Korean’, that which we fail to notice because we’re so close to it all the time. Shin moved to London in the early 90s and she felt herself to be mere floating dust, feeling she had lost the existential context of ‘me’ and ‘us’, lost a firm grip on her roots. Shin spent long time in figuring out how to start communication, and where to start. While viewing ancient artefacts in museums, Shin felt that even if the artefacts or objects were placed in totally different venues or contexts, it would yet still portray and represent its original space and time.

As a beholder standing in the middle, between Korea and Europe, Shin has witnessed the process of cultural translation – interdisciplinary appropriation, imitation and re-contextualization -with critical perspectives of her own. Afterwards and onwards, Shin presented her series, choosing the material of soap and shaping it into ancient artefacts to invoke the visual, olfactory and textual senses. Shin reinterpreted these objects as a medium that could represent alteglichkeit (daily-ness) and non-persistency; thereby, overcoming zeitlichkeit (time) and raumlichkeit (space); at the same time, she created work with the intention that it would, in the end, eventually dissolve. Soap is a soft and highly changeable material, reflecting how the seemingly-fixed and solid cultural realm and definitions therein can be surprisingly loosened. Shin embarked extensively on ceramic-esque figures made out of soap in 2006, with a reference to the Chinese ceramics that were especially produced to be exported to Europe and America from the 16th to 20th centuries. These works are by-products of a satire toward errors produced in the process of cultural interpretation/translation.

To Je Baak, nomadism means the processing of self-objectification, made possible by being away from what is familiar rather than simply entering into a new culture. His work displays how he could come to see the familiar and common objects anew and how we should communicate with others through what he wishes to portray. He recorded the interior scenes of galleries and museums, and then deliberately deleted the art-work in every frame. In this way, the audiences end up watching a video of gallery-goers who are actively discussing something in front of nothing, empty walls; we end up watching the traces of the viewers at galleries or museums. From this, we could dwell on the actual meaning and conventional/orthodox meaning or implication of so-called discourses. series also accompany articulate video collages, putting together images of fun fair structures, symbols of childhood entertainment, evoking in us the image of deep sea creature. Their vivid, exuberant, and attractively- coloured features are rapidly, and sometimes, slowly spinning, signifying both samsara and/or pleasure, and, at the same time, the feeling of a vacuum, or fear.

Eemyun Kang was captivated by Picasso’s biography and work when she was still in elementary school in Ulsan. She vaguely decided that she had to go to a bigger city to master painting, coming to Seoul during high school and leaving for Europe in her 20s, quitting college in Seoul. In Europe, Kang explored and studied Korea’s ancient myths and old stories, and their implied meanings alongside their origins. Mushrooms, caves, garlic, mountains, bear or women frequented Korea’s old stories, and Kang appropriated those subjects, and then further expanded them, in abstract features on the canvas. She boldly portrays the process of how those stories (along with the subject matter) were expanded not through mutations but formation and expansion into a single existence.

To the artist, the mythical metaphor is fundamentally about the existence of humans and the relationship, not a colossal discourse on history and nation, and they continuously expose this theme through their work. Kang notices the origin, movement and modifications of nature’s creation such as pebbles, islands, or flower buds, which she encountered through her travels to mountains and oceans. The work shows how, initially, rough rock pieces from the mountains end up as round pebbles at the side of the sea, and the long, tiring journeys of those pebbles in the process. This work questions the origin and paths of the pebbles.

reflects the lifecycle of a plant, how a plant springs up, blossoms and drops seeds to the ground. This work captures the brink of the moment, for example, when the plant’s seed touches the ground; when the artist opens his or her eyes, about to be grabbed from a dream in the night, then returns to daily life, or reality; the moment he’s about to enter into, or be immersed into the realm of imagination with his brush. All these moments are the instants when the artist or we ourselves truly open our eyes to the world. Ranging from the moment when are awakened toward the provision of magnificent nature to the trivial yet radiant moments in daily life. The power of imagination that connects and surpasses myth and the routine is continuously visualized with her works.

Minae Kim’s work departs from looking back on herself. Kim voluntarily chose or embraced a given environment and constructs her work by utilizing certain objects that hold her own personal memories and experiences in further symbolic, abstract and three-dimensional expressions. Kim wishes to continuously question all sorts of conflicts and negotiations that she encounters when facing the highly diversified world. Kim aims to set up happening-like situations which could be experienced through cleverly-created, useless structures connected to a space/place/structure which has been previously acquiesced.

'A Set of Structures for a White Cube' is a comment on the white cube which socially and physically symbolizes the gallery. The conventional and almost orthodoxical white square, which is also regarded as a symbol of authority, is a highly artificial structure, and this space sometimes causes a sense of embarrassment or alienation in artist. The iron structures installed at the corners of the interior of the gallery seem to upholster the white walls or measure the angles of the white blocks that comprise the white cube. They are installed so as to perfectly fit the corner, as if they were conforming with the white walls, but the protruding structure rolling on the ground, still connected to its iron material, revolts against the white cube. Kim’s work sets the gallery space in a new light, reminding viewers of the ‘space’ itself which is concealed under art. From these series of works, Kim enables us to re-view and re-recognize previously overlooked space at the same time questioning her role as an artist and a citizen residing within both the art world and wider society and continuing to expand it.