Korea Artist Prize 2019
Korea Artist Prize is a prestigious art award and exhibition of Korea co-hosted by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea and the SBS Foundation, and it aims to support those artists who have explored and attested to the potential of contemporary Korean art. Since 2012 until today, Korea Artist Prize has presented visions for contemporary Korean art by fostering discourses in the contemporary art scene. The artists have been chosen based on the recommendations of the committee comprising art professionals such as curators, critics, and scholars and the first-round evaluation process done by a panel of Korean and international judges: Ayoung Kim, Hyesoo Park, Jewyo Rhii, and Young In Hong.
In Korea Artist Prize 2019, Kim's speculative fiction Porosity Valley 2: Tricksters' Plot combines migration of different layers occurring globally and the pseudo-myths of Mongolia and associates them with the influx of Yemen refugees seeking shelter on Jeju Island. Park looks into the generally accepted notions and values with regard to the individual and society in Korea from a variety of perspectives. Her work invites us to observe the definitions and categories of 'we' set by the individuals, namely, their understandings of groups. Rhii builds a storage system, Love your depot that operates as both storage for works of art and a workspace for art-making. This system is an alternative proposal designed to seek ways of delaying the death of works created by artists and of sharing art within the space realized by the artist. Driven by the worldwide prevalence of nationalism and social inequality, Hong has had an interest in animals who communicate in ways different from humans'. The artist's specific inquiry into the bird is reflected in her new work, Sadang B.
Utilizing various mediums and addressing a range of subjects, the artists have approached social and aesthetic issues from different angles. Showcasing the works of these artists who occupy a pivotal position in the Korean art scene, Korea Artist Prize 2019 enables viewers to read the directions towards which contemporary art of fluidity and diversity is leaning and to encounter the conditions of our times visually embodied.
Young In Hong: For equality, another way of communication B
Based in the UK, Young In Hong(1972- ) works in Europe and Korea. Her work has been shown in institutions such as Gwangju Biennale(2014) and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London(fig-2, 2015). Her continuous exploration of how to embody the idea of 'equality' through art has been conducted using diverse mediums including installation, performance, drawing, embroidery, and sound.
Having witnessed how the current pervasiveness of nationalism and social inequality throughout the world has dramatically intensified, Hong has been led to think that an entirely different way of communication is urgently needed. Her attention was directed at animals who communite in completely different ways, and particularly her study of communication of the birds has fed into her new work. Sadang B consists of three new pieces: To Paint the Portrait of a Bird is a large-scale installation questioning the hierarchy between humans and animals; The White Mask is a video documentation of an improvisational performance of 'becoming animals' carried out by a music ensemble from Club Inégales; Un-Splitting is a group performance in the communal area outside the gallery representing women's low-waged labour. Each one of these three pieces represents a different ritual, a space beyond dichotomic opposition and contradiction as in animal vs. human or reason vs. instinct. All three pieces attempt to revisit a forgotten space and time behind the mainstream representations of history.
Hyesoo Park: Who is your 'we'? Who is our 'you'?
Hyesoo Park (1974- ) has questioned the universal values and unconscious thoughts that are affecting our society and groups within it and further gave form to the values of the individuals' memories and lives through her solo shows including Nowhere Man, Now Here is Nowhere, Definition of Botong, and The Dream You Thrown Away. For the visual realization of these perceptions and intangible values, the artist observes our surroundings, gathers data by doing meticulous researches, and when in need collaborates with experts in related fields.
Park's new work made for this exhibition starts from the question, “Who is your 'we'?” This question invites one to examine individuals' definitions and categorizations of 'we' namely, their understandings of groups. Prior to the production of the work, the artist conducted a survey on one's perception of 'we' among a representative sample, and the output of the survey is analyzed by an expert and interpreted by the artist to be reflected in this work. Forum Theatre 'URI' by the artist and various collaborators is performed at an installation located at the center of the gallery which also serves as a flexible space for discussion. Here, a viewer's role is extended and redefined as a participant and a performer as he/she engages more fully with the exhibition and the work. Perfect Family, Park's imaginary human rental company, looks into the dissolution of family, which is rapidly spreading in modern society. No Middle Ground points out the social polarization in Korea while the video work, To Future Generations, calls attention to solitary death and the collapse of family relations. Park's work forces one to face squarely various social phenomena and absurdities in Korean society.
Jewyo Rhii: Somewhere for delay, continuation, and creation
Jewyo Rhii (1971- ) has forged the psychological and physical compounds of variable, ephemeral, and mundane materials. As exemplified by her major works such as Night Studio, Two, and Commonly Newcomer, Rhii is interested in the implications of different combinations exploring the intersections of the private and public boundaries. Both in Korea and abroad, the artist's activities are not confined to exhibitions but extend to a range of areas including performance and publication as well.
In this exhibition, Rhii presents her new work, Love your depot, a proposal and a prototype for the storage system that she plans to actualize in the near future. Her exhibition space is occupied largely by artist storage, a lab, and a contents development center called 'Team depot'. In this place, both the works of the artist and those of others are stored, studied, and documented in diverse ways by participants stationed in the gallery. Also, there is an online platform through which contents generated in the gallery can be uploaded, forming a live communication hub. The exhibition space is accordingly reconstituted as a storage for works of art and at the same time a new form of space where a variety of creative activities are carried out. As the critic Charles Esche commented on Rhii's work that “she builds conditions in which she can operate without total dependency on the art system ,” this experimental system conceived by the artist is an alternative proposal for a 'way of delaying the death of works by artists and sharing art'.
Ayoung Kim: Migration both vertical and horizontal, to be on the boundary
Ayoung Kim (1979- ) has explored present-day issues concerning the modern and contemporary history of Korea, petroleum politics, territorial imperialism, and the migration of capital and date through her videos, performances, and installations shown at the exhibitions including the 2015 Venice Biennale and in her solo show at the Palais de Tokyo in 2016. In works such as PH Express and Zepheth, Whale Oil from the Hanging Gardens to You, Shell, the artist represented the factual and the fictitious and introduced her unique methodology to integrate multilayered visual elements into strong overlapping narratives in which space and time are rearranged.
The most central among Kim's new works for this exhibition is a video work, Porosity Valley 2: Tricksters' Plot, a sequel to Porosity Valley: Portable Holes (2017). With respect to the migration journey of Petra Genetrix, a mineral and data cluster, this piece transcribes the related migrations of refugees and data into a multi-faceted fiction. Kim's recent works show her uninterrupted interest in migrations, transportations, and crossings happening around the globe. In her new work, the artist focuses her interests in the region of Asia, in Mongolia especially, and combines her work with its mythic stories known as traditional totemic tales of rocks and earth of the region. The plates of the earth's crust inside continents are in constant motion, and in contrast the surfaces of the continents are inundated with sections blocked by countless unyielding borders. As actual and imaginary agents between the inner and outer parts of the continent are halted or let through at the borders, these intricate relationships raise new questions that straddle history and the present.