It is hard to define
"modernity" in just one word because it embodies not only a specific
experience, but a discourse in which various contradictions, conflicts,
coincidences, and discontinuities are intricately entangled. New Women focuses on women as an
intersection of these experiences and discourses that construct Korean
modernity: the tension between tradition and innovation, the idea that
westernization equals modernization, and the implications of urbanization,
imperialism, and colonialism.
The exhibition pays special
attention to the "new women" regarded as "ambiguous and
dangerous women who are neither gisaeng
(artists who worked as entertainers and courtesans) nor students."
Yielding to external influences from Japan and the West, they formed through
processes of selection and exclusion, translation and imitation, making them
perfect displays of the country's complicated and inconclusive
"modernity." The exhibition explores these women who permeated images
and narratives of colonial modernity through pop culture and modernist art.