London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Exhibition visit: Young In Hong — In Her Dream, at the ICA

In Her Dream performance

An opulent table set for dinner, with rather unsettling ornaments, greets you in the ICA Theatre for the performance of Young In Hong’s piece In Her Dream. A solo cellist / vocalist starts playing slow arpeggios as four female dancers take their place at table, their eyes blindfolded in black veils.

They take their veils off, and the dinner starts: sensual, drunken, as the cellist starts singing. In the second act, one dancer breaks off, walking through the audience until she enters a confining cylinder of white gauze, writhing until she falls prostrate as a Korean drummer1 intones a haunting melody.

Upstairs, in the ICA Studio, an installation projects an image of six faceless women dining at a colourful and richly ornamented table; ruched gold-coloured fabric adds to the feeling of opulence in the otherwise bare, cold space, seeming to provide decorative cladding for pillars in the room (like her installation On Air at Shêd, a restaurant and club in the City of London back in 2007, where she softened the concrete structure of the interior with, again, ruched fabric).

I wish I had taken a few photos of her work at Shêd, but the Korean-inspired food was too good and perhaps I was less organised as a blogger eight years ago. But here are a few photos of tonight’s performance, which will be repeated on Thursday evening (for which booking is necessary, and which is followed by a Q&A).

The written materials available at the ICA have the following to add to the exhibition notice already published:

In Her Dream is a multidisciplinary and trans-cultural performance that addresses issues of violence and isolation. Concentrating on the notion of the self as a complex phenomenon, the piece diverges into an exploration of sonic and visual expressions around a narrative in abstracted form.

The piece is inspired by a real life story of a woman who was abused at the age of nine. After suffering for twenty one years, with two broken marriages and several months spent at a mental hospital, she murders the man who raped her, since Korean law would neither punish him nor protect her from him.

The court case following the murder and the publicity around it assigns an accelerating momentum to the Korean Women’s and Student Movement, leaving a mark in history not only through the societal engagement to issues of abuse, bit also the legislative regulation on domestic violence.

The piece purposes to define the position of minority in current societal constellations in a way in which it advocates the hyperbolic expressions of being an individual in today’s neoliberal setting. Through combining installation, costume, dance, music and acting to a single work of art, the piece embodies a baroque spirit in its exuberance and radical stance, creating a climax of excessive discord.


  1. Korean Artists Association chairman Jeung-hyun Choi []

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