Review: Youngeun Keem

402, Seoul Art Space Mullae, December, 2011

The theater is typically a shared experience, one we can discuss or debate after the curtain closes. But the singularity of 402, a sound work seen alone in a small room, and “viewed” in isolation possessed an ambiguity and lack of distinction from its surroundings, like the tree that falls in the woods when no one is there to hear it fall. Still 402 is more like the sounds of living in a studio flat in a multipurpose building. Framed by incidentally domestic and office sounds, doors opening and closing, music rising and falling, construction and conversations, this work requires much of the viewer’s attention and distraction, as it was hard to not let the mind wander. Because, it was, to a certain extent, unclear when the piece began and ended, deciding what the work included in the neatly appointed room was a subjective endeavor, and therefor like a dream who’s meaning only the dreamer may know, the patterns and rhythms of the work narrated themes characteristics of urban life. In the end the work, in that small, clean space, had an ironic cinematic effect, and acted like an oasis from the chaos and cold of the city outside.

reviewed by Julia Marsh

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Review: Oak Jungho

The Holy Landscape, Pool, December 08 – 28, 2011

Oak Jungho’s exhibit The Holy Landscape consists of two series of images depicting places, like mountains and amusement parks crowded with visitors in one, and in the other series a figure dressed in a business suit fills each frame absurdly doing yoga on a mudflat. In each series bodies and places are held in paradoxical juxtaposition, which the show’s title further underscores. The pedestrian appearance of bodies in Oak’s photographs, in places, both sacred and profane, entangle holy spaces with either unholy practices or holy practices in unholy places—a world run amok and holiness in muddy muck. Seemingly straightforward, their underlying impact would be diminished if the two sets were seen separately. Oak’s images tell the combined story of distraction and focus in the masses that head out each week to a kind of frenzied worship, we can see an ecstatic pursuit of diversions and distractions. As well the images of yogic practice, however strangely done, evident is the idea that yoga, too, has increasingly been incorporated in to the frenzy of distractions. As images the scenes of crowds may not seem as remarkable the man doing yoga, but all the same Oak ask us to reflect on what pass for healthy practices.

reviewed by Julia Marsh

 

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Review: Labour of Love Revisited

Arko, November 11 – December 18, 2011

This interesting, but uneven show brought together works in a taxonomy of what can be superficially classified as and incorporated into artistic practices these days. Everything from scientific, documentarian, environmental, theoretical, reciprocal, and gestural, this group show was a little like an expo featuring the numerous approaches artist and non-artists take in making and exploring ideas, nominally framed by the idea of the love it takes to pursue a dream. Within the disparate approaches and functions, especially compelling were Vehicle Tokyo by Moriz Fehr for its troubling images about a troubling issue; while the work All-salt was just downright scary. The notable body of work by Mary Mattingly was evident in Waterpod. And Yangachi’s The Second Wife from the Future – In Case of Hypnotist is like Chris Marker’s La Jette, transporting. What Labour of Love Revisited: The Rise Amateurism in the Digital Age asks is what does it mean to use methods without mastery, while simultaneously answering that in the art world this is accepted practice. The merit of this show was its inclusiveness, by showing both edges of DIY culture—actual amateurs alongside artists—the show poses that mastery is overrated and that being unskilled can a good thing, even legitimate.

reviewed by Julia Marsh

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Review: Seo Hyun-suk

Heterochrony, Culture Station Seoul 284, January 13-20, 2012

Heterochrony is another work by Seo Hyun-suk that takes the viewer or participant on an odyssey, but this time the focus of the work is directly on the subject/viewer- who in the end is the viewed. Not surprising was the manner in which the work begins, nor that each went through a series of passageways in the renovated Seoul Train Station, cum Culture outpost or through its modern successor, but what surprising was the extent to which Seo took hold of the viewer’s personal space and level of individual participation, even going so far as to ask for permission and telling each that the performance would end if the viewer said they didn’t want to go on. That alone left me wondering at the start what was I getting my self into. Compared to his other works this work had the effect of feeling less choreographed and not as tightly conducted by the actors or guides that in previous works had been so very scripted and in character. In this work the audience was more precisely the work and the guide a reflection of the audience; however, shaky or in control they presented themselves. In giving yourself over to the work you became something of a spectacle to be stared at or ignored but in the end you couldn’t avoid that you were both.

reviewed by Julia Marsh

 

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