Exhibition news: Enclosed — International Media art at the British Museum

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As part of the 2005 Korean Festival, Suum Projects is putting on an evening of international media art at the Stevenson Lecture Theatre at the British Museum, 10 May.

Most of the video work is by Korean artists – detailed below – but there are also works by Marit Lindberg, Ene-Liis Semper, Nathalie Djurberg and Gaia Alessi & Richard Bradbury.

A 6pm screening is followed by a panel discussion and reception. Panellists are Patricia Bickers, Hou Hanru, Pontus Kyander and curator Jiyoon Lee.

Ham Kyung-ah: Travel & Journey (2005)

Ham Kyung-ah: Travel & Journey, 2005
Still from Ham Kyung-ah: Travel & Journey, 2005

Travel & Journey attempts to show, without any pre-conceptions, tourists in so-called ‘World’ theme parks peppered around the Far East: Beijing World Park (China), Shichen Window of the World (China), Tobu World Square (Japan), Jeju Small World (Korea) and Bucheon Ainsworld (Korea). Filled with replicas of world heritage buildings, the spaces created within these theme parks are not vague, perfect and mysterious, but rather the boundary between the realistic and the fantastic. Copying the realities of different cultures and periods and using these to attract the audience brings forward an unintentional reaction from the public, that of stimulating imagination and memory. These posturing tourists somehow seem very sincere, and surprisingly, free.

Park June Bum: II Building (2004)

Park June Bum: II Building, 2004
Still from Park June Bum: II Building, (2004)

The lilliputian scene shows cars, buildings and people, all being objects of play, moved to and fro by a pair of giant hands. Initially looking like passive toys, they seem to gain their own motives and actions, moving of their own volition.

The work uses as background the set built for public performance, filming the 13 hours from 12am to 1pm, after the performance was completed. During the first half of the video work which shows the change from day to night, one can see people moving backwards, showing that this work was designed to show objects moving backwards in time. The next scene shows the change from night to day, when one can see a time-compressed scene (26 hours to 7 minutes) of how the set was built and removed, narrating the lifecycle of the building.

Jeon Joonho: In God We Trust (2004)

Jeon Joonho: In God We Trust (2004)
We hereby declare Korea as an independent state and its people as free. Still from Jeon Joonho: In God We Trust (2004)

Reverse sides of US dollar banknotes depict historically important (to Americans) scenes such as the Declaration of Independence and Independence Hall. They also have a quotation: In God We Trust, after which this video work is named.

The work depicts an unsettling yet humorous journey of an avatar of the artist going across these banknote scenes. We see him ask directions from passers-by, gate-crash the Signing of the Declaration of Independence to recite the Korean version of the Declaration of Independence, walk in front of the Independence Hall. Throughout the work we see the stone-faced reaction, or non-reaction, of other people in the scene. Is he being ignored because of a language barrier? Or because he is dressed strangely? Or because he is asking for something which Americans have fought for and gained, but are now not willing to give to others due to their superpower status? If USA trusted in God when it was a weak power, then what does this mean now to USA, especially when as the only world super-power, realpolitik and behind-the-scene manipulations seem to be part of its everyday operations?

Overlaying these well known historical scenes with actions and re-actions of a man searching for liberty and freedom of his country, this work is also a commentary on cultural clash, relationship between major and minor powers, questioning what the trust in God means, in this age where the world seems to be divided not along ideological lines as in the case of the latter half of the twentieth century, but along religious, financial and racial lines.

Chang Jia: Physical Requirement for an Artist – 2nd – Enjoy yourself in every condition (2000)

  1. Enjoy all circumstances!
  2. You have to have kept persevering!
  3. Be an active participant of all circumstances!
  4. Aim towards a well-defined goal!

This work is formed of four separate series, and through the body, and the actions taken by the body, attempts to show how htese actions can be seen and responded to within a social system.

The second part, entitled “Enjoy all circumstances,” starts from self-hating sado-masochistic actions and results in a collision of intended action and unexpected reaction. Accepting pain as pain means that one is already trapped within a system – hence one’s reaction must be that of resolute stoicism. “This is my critical stance towards the unbalanced relationship between myself and the art world, and also that of my stance towards the authority which attempts to bear down its power and rules on me.”

Kim Beom: Untitled (News) (2002)

Kim Beom: Untitled (News) (2002)
Stills from Kim Beom: Untitled (News) (2002)

How nice will it be – if we do not get wet in the rain, if we do not feel cold in the snow, if we do not get broke on any occasion, if we do not get hungry after skipping meals, and if we do not get hurt after falling down!

Constructed by physically taking apart a news program on a word-by-word basis and putting them together according to the artist’s whims and wishes, we see a new News program devoid of any ‘news’ content, but rather containing a whimsical message, delivered with intentional gravitas and unintentional humour by the news presenter. What is the power of words?

News is not news soon after it is broadcast, and is soon forgotten. If that is the case, what is more important and powerful: the news itself, or the re-constituted message? The former carrying temporary and localised significance, or the latter carrying light yet universal meaning?

Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries: What Now? (2005)

Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries: What Now? (2005)
Still from Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries: What Now? (2005)

Originally commissioned by the Belgian poetry review Écritures, this work invites us to respond to a question: What lies ahead?

Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries (http://www.yhchang.com/) (C.E.O.: Young-hae Chang, C.I.O.: Marc Voge) is based in Seoul.

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