Greeting its fourth year, ‘Korea Artist Prize’ is a system co-organized by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA, Korea) and the SBS Foundation adhering to the mission of promoting artists with great possibilities, vision and new alternative to Korean contemporary art. From the year 2015, ‘Korea Artist Prize’ will be held at the Seoul branch of MMCA, Korea.
For the fair operation of Korea Artist Prize 2015, a steering committee (5 members), recommendation (10 members) and judging committee (5 members) were independently established. Each recommendation committee member endorsed an artist/a group, and through strict evaluation process by the judging committee composed of international art professionals, four artists were selected to participate in Korea Artist Prize 2015. The shortlist for this year includes Kira Kim (b.1974), Na Hyun (b.1970), Inhwan Oh (b.1965) and Tae Bum Ha (b.1974) and these four artists will present their latest projects in this exhibition. Henceforth, one artist will be awarded as the ‘2015 Artist of the Year’ through the final evaluation process during the exhibition period.
For this exhibition, Kira Kim’s tells the story of ordinary lives surviving the insecure today and Na Hyun’s displays the archaeological study of historical experience and city development of Seoul and Berlin in a solid way. Inhwan Oh extends the spatial significance of blind spot to the context of society and culture whereas Tae Bum Ha reinterprets the attitude of mass media in delivering the scenes of accidents and incidents.
Korea Artist Prize 2015 The Official Site : http://koreaartistprize.org/en
Kira Kim (b.1974-) is an artist who actively expresses the social responsibility of art and artists through performance, installation and video. The method of Kim’s visual language is grounded upon the gesture of editing the various collected symbols through his own peculiar humor and metaphorical syntax, thereby discovering the relationship among the modern society, individual, and a venue of public dialogue. Kim is interested in the socio-cultural position of an individual in the current capitalist society as well as the desire of a person and group in opposition to this. Kim continuously collaborates with professionals from different genres, forming a multilayer community. He explores the pivotal point where this process and results are combined together with visual art and eventually the labor of thought becomes a work.
‘Floating Village’ generally refers to the house built on water. Kira Kim borrowed this compound word as the socio-cultural and conceptual term to show an aspect of our society. Under the proposition of ‘common good’, Kim intends to unravel the issues of collision, conflict and opposition within the reality, history, ideology, politics, generation, region, and labor union of the Republic of Korea in aesthetical perspectives. He collaborated with numerous professionals from different genres including film director, psychiatrist, voice actor, dancer, poet, on-site artist, actor, singer and etc. The procedure and results of the collaboration are presented in his works, Weight of Ideology–Darkness at Noon (2014), Red Wheel (2015), and Floating Village (2015) as video installations.
Na Hyun (1970-) works with projects that connect the past and the present based on data and documentation of historical events and records. For an in-depth and solid interpretation in the process of dissecting and reconstructing the authorized objective history, Na Hyun selects performative and organic method of a project. He first assembles archival data from history, anthropology and cultural anthropology to attempt analysis and structural re-configuration. After this, the artist actually visits the historical sites himself and constructs another subjective archive through series of unexpected experiences.
Na Hyun has been suspecting the Devil’s Mountain (Teufelsberg) of Berlin and Nanjido of Seoul as relics of the Babel Tower and thus presents his research project, The Babel Tower Project-Nanjido to explore the socio-cultural significance. Na Hyun excavates the stratum of time and memories of the modern and contemporary era of the Devil’s Mountain and Nanjido. He installs a wooden well as equipment connecting the past and present, thereby exposing the innate attributes of agitation and violence underneath. He especially pays attention to the meaning of ‘minjok’ (race or ethnicity). As a metaphorical gesture of displaying the record of the Babel Tower and the Mischehe discrimination legislation in German congress about a century ago and the rapid diffusion of multi-racial society in the 21st century Republic of Korea as a country once confident of being a single-race nation, Na Hyun transplanted various naturalized plants collected from Nanjido unto the Babel Tower in the exhibition space. In addition, he also placed interviews of the foreigners who live in Korea and people of Korean race who live overseas to attest that Nanjido is one kind of a Babel Tower through the origin and proliferation of heterogeneous race and language.
Inhwan Oh (b.1965-) works on participatory and site-specific projects utilizing the context of particular space and time. Oh initiates from the issues of identity and further expands to the fundamental question of correlation between the societal regulations and the arts, attempting to deliver cultural criticism in conceptual and experimental methods. Based on his personal experiences, Oh translates or dismantles the cultural code formed in the pertinent context of relationship between individual identity and group within the patriarchal society. He also proceeds on with concrete and practical works relevant to the daily experiences, merging the keywords of contemporary art including, difference, variety, communication and more.
Oh collects the variant cases of different individual’s search for blind spots in ordinary lives and shares them with the audience. Through this procedure, he affirms that cultural blind spot is a reality of the daily life than an idealistic conception. In this, he also treats the museum and exhibition as the public system within the art sphere and yet another place of domineering culture, and attempts a situational search for finding blind spots in regard to this system. Employing the surveillance camera installed in the exhibition space, Oh presents audience with the experience of the blind spot, and provides tour of his works by the blind docent. Such act of finding blind spot within the system of art dilates into the question of ‘Who is considered artist today?’ and ‘What regulates artist?’, hence developing a cross-examination of relationship between artist and institution. This venture of Inhwan Oh may be a self-reflection with hopes of creating cultural space of his own within the institution of art.
Tae Bum Ha
Tae Bum Ha (1974-) is an artist who works with video and sculptural works based on photographic images. He is particularly interested in the mass media’s attitude on distributing information of current incidents and accidents to the general public. Tae Bum Ha collects reported images of calamitous incidents, natural disasters, and war or accident scenes exposed in the media to reinterpret them into white bleached objects. Then he photographs them in an exactly identical composition as the reported news images or reproduces particular image in close-up captures. Through the series of such processes, Ha criticizes the political stance of the mass media in delivering the fact of an incident and the consumptive disposition of the society, endlessly consuming these results.
Tae Bum Ha (b.1974-) collects images of several incidents and reported news photographs uploaded on the internet everyday as main reference for his works. These images are mostly captures of the destroyed buildings, wreckage and ruins of conflict areas or natural disasters. The artist rebuilds these images into white miniatures and completes them into photographs. Through the blank space created by intentional deletion of the background, he gradually maximizes his indifferent perspectives. Yeonpyeongdo (2011), Japan Tsunami (2012) and Tondo in Philippines (2014) were produced in the respective context.
On the other hand, only the faces of children are accentuated in Line of Sight (2015) series. Tae Bum Ha encountered images of displaced boys and girls from the advertisements of different non-profit relief organizations. According to the artist, if news were to ‘provide’ gruesome scenes of the accidents, then these non-profit relief organizations ‘provide’ appearances of the people in such pain whereas also eliciting ‘opportunity’ to participate in something.