무거운, 너무 무거운, 김윤서

바위에 새긴

모세는 시내산에 올라 하나님으로부터 율법과 계명이 새겨진 돌판 두짝을 내려받았다.(1) 대대손손에게 보여지고 지켜져야 할 계명이라면 나무나 흙바닥이 아닌 바위여야 할 것이다. 바위에 새긴 글은 영원불변하는 진리이거나, 진리에 가깝게 느껴지기 마련이다. 바람이 불고 비가 와도 바위에 새겨진 글은 쉽사리 지워지지 않기 때문이다. 누군가가 장난스럽게 작대기 하나만 더하기도, 다시 고쳐쓰기도 어렵다. 껌종이나 담뱃곽 위에 쓰느냐, 바위에 새기느냐는 쓰여질 그 내용의 무게를 대변한다.

강요된 보기1: 금강산

Engraved Rock, Mt. Kumgang, North Korea, 2012

최근 금강산의 바위 소식을 전해들었다. 2012년 4월 북한이 박연 폭포 주변의 바위에 “영원한 우리 수령 김일성 동지”라는 글귀를 새겼다는 내용이다.(2) 신문이 제공한 정보에 따르면 이 문장의 총길이는 37m, 글자 개당 높이는 5m, 가로2.9m, 깊이 0.45m이다. 마지막 글자 ‘지’의 모음 ‘ㅣ’에 사람 한명쯤은 쏙 파묻힐 수 있을 크기다. 북한은 경치가 뛰어나거나 유동인구가 많은 곳마다 “위대한 수령 김일성 동지는 영원히 우리와 함께 계신다”, “조선아 자랑하자 5천년 민족사에 가장 위대한 김일성 동지를 수령으로 모시었던 영광을” 과 같은 문구를 새겨 넣는 글발사업을 1970년부터 진행해왔으며 이는 현재진행형이다.

강요된 보기2: 서울대전대구부산

Engraved Rock, Seoul, South Korea, 2007

서울시내 곳곳에는 “바르게 살자”는 문장이 새겨진 바위가 있다. 관심을 갖고 보기 시작하면 이 바위는 서울 시내 뿐 아니라 전국 곳곳에서 찾을 수 있다. 바위 뒷면에는 “바르게 살면 미래가 보인다”는 문장이 덤으로 새겨져 있다.(3) 이 커다란 돌덩이는 ‘바르게살기운동 중앙협의회’가 1999년부터 전국적으로 진행해온 사업의 결과물이다. 행정안전부 산하 관변단체인 이들은 전국 8도 기관의 전폭적인 지지와 도움으로 현재까지 전국에 300여개 이상의 ‘바르게 살자’ 표석을 세웠으며 1천개를 설치하는 것이 목표라고 한다.(4)

“바르게 살자” 일상생활에서 시민을 ‘계도’하기 위해 고안되었다는 이 문장은 문법적으로는 청유형이지만, 묵직한 검정색 서체가 커다란 바위에 새겨져 전달되는 방식은 지키고 따라야할 법규와 같다. 이토록 압도적이고 일방적으로 다가오는 텍스트를 전국 8도 거리마다 종종 마주치게 되는 일은 시력을 가진 보행자로서는 피로하고, 때로는 무서운 일이다. 보행자 그 누구도 강요된 보기에서 자유로울 수 없다. 2012년 서울 어딘가에서 지금도 이러한 표석이 세워지고 있다는 사실은 꽤 초현실적이다.

바위로 바위치기: ?

Michael Asher, Engraved Rock, Daejeon, South Korea, 1993

미국의 개념미술가 마이클 애셔(Michael Asher, b. 1943)(5)는 한국에 왔다가 ‘바르게 살자’ 표석과 비슷한 돌덩어리를 하나 세워놓고 떠났다. 좀처럼 물리적인 실체로 남는 작업을 하지 않는 애셔의 영구 작업이 대전에 있다는 사실은 한국에서 그의 프로젝트에 대해 논문을 쓰고 있던 나로서는 신나는 발견이었다.(6) 경위는 다음과 같다. 1993년 과학도시 대전에서 열린 ‘대전엑스포’를 기억할 것이다. 당시 과학 행사 중 한켠에서는 이를 경축하기 위해 ≪미래 저편에Future Lies Ahead≫라는 주제의 전시가 열렸다. 전시를 기획한 퐁튀스 훌텐(Pontus Hulten)에 따르면 전세계에서 초대된 35명의 작가들이 실내 전시와 조각공원 두 부분으로 나누어 전시를 진행했고, 애셔는 조각공원 설치 부분에 참여했다. 이때 그가 조각공원 조성을 위해 한 작업이라는 것이 한국인들에게는 흔하디 흔한 표석을 세운 것이다. 그가 바위에 한국어로 새겨놓은 텍스트는 다음과 같다.

“이곳저곳에 설치된 건축-구조물들의 나열이 관람객인 우리들을 위해 설계되었다고 가정한다면 다음과 같은 질문이 제기될 수 있을 것입니다. 기업의 정당화와 권력의 표상 사이를 오고가는 우리들로부터 이득을 보는 자는 누구입니까?”(7)

지난해 여름 이 바위를 보기 위해 대전 엑스포 과학공원을 찾았다. ‘조각공원 조성’이라는 당시 전시 목적에 충실하게 무대처럼 틀지워진 조각공원 안에서 대형조각들은 작품명과 작가명을 달고 일정한 간격으로 나열되어 있었다. 애셔의 작업은 그곳에 없었다. 대신 조각공원으로 향하는 인도 곁에 특별할 것 없는 바위로 세워져 있었다. 또한, 조각공원에 설치된 조각들과는 달리 애셔가 설치한 바위 앞에는 작가와 작품 제목을 알리는 그 어떤 표식도 없었다. (실제로 애셔의 모든 작업들은 제목이랄 것이 없다.) 애셔는 바위가 놓일 장소로 ‘조각공원’보다는 그저 방문자들의 여러 동선 중 조각공원으로 향하는 길목을 택했다. 텍스트가 새겨진 바위와 이를 받치는 바위 두개로 이루어져 있으며 글자체 또한 검정색 명조체를 사용했다. 놓인 자리와 바위의 생김만 보더라도 전형적인 표석의 형태를 그대로 따랐다. 결국, 애셔의 작업은 ‘예술작품’으로 보이지 않는다. 바위에 새겨진 내용만 조금 생소할 뿐.

애셔는 1993년 대전을 방문해 이곳 저곳을 다니면서 곳곳에 설치된 ‘바르게 살자’와 같은 표석을 몇차례 마주했을 것이다. 실제로 엑스포 과학공원을 향하는 길목에만 해도 이곳이 ‘대덕연구단지’임을 알리는 기념바위가 서있다. 동네 초입이나 건물 건축을 기념하는 한국 곳곳에 설치된 표석은 보는 이들에게 발신하는 장치로 기능한다. 한국인에게 특별할 것 없는 기념바위에 애셔가 발신하고자 하는 메시지를 한국어로 새겨 넣은 이 작업은 몇가지 재미있는 지점을 안고있다.

애셔가 스펙터클한 대형 조각으로 공공장소를 작가 개인 또는 도시의 상징적 장소로 식민화해온 공공조각의 관례를 유머러스하게 비판해왔다는 점을 감안하면, 이 작업 역시 그가 해온 작업과 같은 맥락에서 볼 수 있다. 그는 ‘바르게 살자’ 바위와 다를 것 없는 대형 기념비의 형태를 그대로 빌어와 텍스트만 교체함으로써, 바위로 바위를 치는 전술을 펼쳤다. 이 표석은 그의 여느 작업과 마찬가지로 한눈에 작품으로 인식되지 않을 뿐더러, ‘애셔’라는 작가의 이름 보다 텍스트를 전달하는 발신장치로서의 본디 기능이 우선한다. 그런 면에서, 바위 그 자체 보다는 바위가 세워진 일상적인 장소와 상황 안에서 지역주민들에게 요구되는 시선과 보는 행위로써 유발되는 ‘각성’ 에 방점이 찍힌다. 정보 주입으로서의 문장이 아닌, 물음표로 끝나는 텍스트를 새김으로써 보행자의 수동성에 각성의 계기를 제공하는 것이다.

요컨대, 애셔의 작업은 일상생활과 자연스러움 속에 똬리를 틀고있는 지배의 도구를 비판하고 의문을 던진다. 이로써 개인의 삶 속에서 사라진 긴장관계를 생성하고자 한다. 그가 만들어내고자 한 것은 엄청난 대안이나 확실한 해결책이 아니라 개개인의 ‘태도’다. 애셔 작업의 급진적 성격은 오늘날 한국 미술계의 담론 차원에서 절실하게 요청되는 과제이기도 하다. 지역주민들이 이 표석을 통해 공공조각이라는 이름으로 이 땅에 넘쳐나는 장치들에 대해 물음을 가져볼 수 있게 된다면 그는 원하는 바를 이룬 것일테다.

김윤서 (예술학, 홍익대학교 현대미술관 큐레이터)

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1)   출애굽기 24: 12

2)   2012년 4월 6일자 북한 노동당 기관지 노동신문은 “박연폭포의 글발에는 민족의 태양이시며 자애로운 어버이이신 위대한 수령 김일성 동지의 혁명업적을 후손만대에 길이 빛내려는 우리 군대와 인민의 의지가 어려있다”면서 “김일성 수령님을 높이 받들어 모시려는 천군만민의 불변의 신념을 담아 새겼다”고 전한다.

3)   이를 받치고 있는 또다른 바위에는 이 사업이 진행될 수 있도록 공헌한 서른명 남짓한 이름 목록이 빽빽하게 새겨져있다.

4)   국회 예산정책처의 ‘회계연도 결산부처별 분석’ 자료에 따르면 바르게살기운동 중앙협의회는 행정안전부로부터 공익사업 명목으로 2010년 10억원의 예산을 지원받았으며, 2011년에는 2010년보다 50% 증가한 15억원을 받았다. 행안부는 올해 예산에도 바르게살기운동 중앙협의회에10억원의 지원예산을 편성해놓았다. 국회 예산정책처는 “다른 비영리 민간단체나 많은 공익단체가 국고 보조가 충분히 이뤄지지 못해 재정적 어려움을 겪고 있는 상황에서, 정부가 별도의 공모절차 없이 바르게살기운동 중앙협의회, 새마을운동중앙회와 같은 관변단체에만 연간 수십억원 규모를 교부하는 것은 형평성에 부합하지 않는 측면이 있다”고 지적했다.

5)   애셔가 원하든 원치않든 그는 개념미술가, 세부적으로는 1세대 제도비판미술가로 알려져 있다.

6)   1993년부터 대전엑스포 과학공원 내부에 있던 애셔의 표석은 2012년 2월 대전시립미술관 야외광장으로 옮겨졌다.

7)   한국어로 번역된 원문은 다음과 같다. “ASSUMING THAT THE ARRAY OF STRUCTURES WHICH CONSTITUTE THE IMMEDIATE SURROUNDINGS WERE DESIGNED FOR US SPECTATORS, IT ENABLES US TO ASK: WHO BENEFITS FROM OUR NAVIGATING BETWEEN DISPLAYS OF CORPORATE LEGITIMATION AND REPRESENTATIONS OF POWER?” Andrea Fraser, “Procedural Matters: The Art of Michael Asher”, Artforum (Summer 2008), p. 464 (fn. 4).

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Kim YoonSeo, “Heavy, Too Heavy: Words Engraved on the Rock”

Perhaps because Moses climbed up Mount Sinai and received two stone tablets on which God’s commandments were written, and the code of Hammruabi is carved into a stele, it became customary that stone, rather than wood or paper, are used to preserve important messages, generation after generation. Texts carved into rock are easily regarded as eternal truths because the words themselves are not readily erased, even by many years of weathering. Moreover, that no one can simply erase, add a playful line or rewrite such texts, they evoke a seriousness to what is written.

Coerced Watching 1: Mount Kumgang

Engraved Rock, Mount Kumgang, North Korea, 2012

Recently, I read about such rocks, inscribed on Mount Kumgang. In April 2012, the North Korean government engraved “OUR ETERNAL LEADER, COMRADE KIM IL-SUNG” on a boulder around Bak-yeon Falls.[1] According to the press, the overall size of the text was five by 37 by .45 meters, making the last Hangeul character “ㅣ,” which is the same as the vowel “i,” easily the size of an adult man. Since 1970, the North Korean government has produced these engraved works wherever there is a large floating population of workers, carving words such as “The great leader Kim Il-sung is always with us” or “Chosun, let’s be proud of the fact that we had Kim Il-sung as our leader, who was the greatest leader in the 5,000 years of our national history.” This work is ongoing.

Coerced Watching 2: Seoul, Daejeon, Daegu, Busan

Engraved Rock, Seoul, South Korea, 2007

In many places around Seoul, people can find boulders engraved with the words “LET’S LIVE A RIGHT LIFE.” Additionally, the text: “YOU CAN SEE THE FUTURE WHEN LIVING A RIGHT LIFE” is also engraved on the back of such rocks.[2] After seriously researching this type of engraving I found that these rocks are found not only in Seoul, but all around the country. These carvings on huge boulders are the result of a national project conducted since 1999 by the “Central Committee of the Right-Way-of-Life Movement.” This organization, which is a government-run advocacy group affiliated with the Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MOPAS), placed more than 300 of these “LET’S LIVE A RIGHT LIFE” stones all around the country with the help of the government finances in all eight provinces. Their goal is ultimately to place 1,000 such stone inscriptions.[3]

The texts selected and engraved by the government are obviously designed to reach individuals and make them think in accordance with the state’s own logic. It is a different matter whether this strategy succeeds or not. According to Michel Foucault, power can modify and discipline individuals through various apparatus. At this point, the concept of the apparatus can be defined as something impelled upon individuals from outside, which is the externalized power that artificializes, manages, and governs beings. These apparatus are imposed upon individuals who then internalized them as beliefs. In the situation of the inscribed boulders, if individuals follow the given texts literally, such controlled bodies have no choice but to accept the given ideology the incumbent regime administers. This happens easily when there is no tension between the beings and the apparatus. Although this is generally acknowledged as a truth in structuralist theory, it should still be taken into account that no matter how terrifying a given system may be, there always remain possibilities, which can be created by ordinary people in their daily life. What is important here is the interconnection between the demand of the text and the possibilities suggested by certain art practices.

The sentence “LET’S LIVE A RIGHT LIFE,” which the government says is devised “to guide” citizens, is grammatically a suggestion, but looks more like a demand to follow, when it is writ in big, black bold font carved into a huge boulder. Such coercion could be tiresome and sometimes even scary for any pedestrian who has eyes to see when they face one of these overwhelming and unilateral texts throughout the nation. No pedestrian can be free then from this persuasive monitoring. That these bullying messages are still being placed around Seoul even in 2012 is somewhat surreal.

Stoning the Stones?

Michael Asher, Engraved Rock, Daejeon, South Korea, 1993

Michael Asher (b. 1943),[4] an American conceptual artist, engraved a stone inscription similar to “LET’S LIVE A RIGHT LIFE” when he visited Korea in 1993. It is an exciting discovery considering that Asher, who is well-known for leaving very few physical remnants of his artistic work, left a permanent work in Daejeon. It was even more interesting to me as I was writing my thesis on his oeuvre.[5] In 1993, as many Koreans will recall, there was an EXPO in Daejeon a city that was advertised as “Science City.” At the same time, an exhibition was held to celebrate the science event. Entitled Future Lies Ahead, the show was curated by Pontus Hulten, who invited 35 artists from all over the world to participate in a museum exhibition and sculpture park. Asher’s participation in the sculpture park, consisted of a simple stone with an inscription, which was, to Koreans, rather banal. The text engraved into the stone is as follows:

“ASSUMING THAT THE ARRAY OF STRUCTURES WHICH CONSTITUTE THE IMMEDIATE SURROUNDINGS WERE DESIGNED FOR US SPECTATORS, IT ENABLES US TO ASK: WHO BENEFITS FROM OUR NAVIGATING BETWEEN DISPLAYS OF CORPORATE LEGITIMATION AND REPRESENTATIONS OF POWER?”[6]

Last summer when I visited the EXPO Science Park in Daejeon to see this rock, I saw that the organizers where devoted to the goal of “creating a sculpture park,” and the giant sculptures were displayed throughout the park, each with an appropriate placard indicating the name of the artist and the title of the work. However, Asher’s work was not placed with the others; instead, his unimportant looking rock was positioned by a sidewalk entering the sculpture park. Also, unlike the other sculptures, there was no placard. (In fact, as a practice his works have no title, and they are not “Untitled” but actually have no name whatsoever.) Unsurprising in light of his titling, Asher chose the street corner for his work’s placement, rather than the sculpture park, so visitors would pass by it on the way into the sculpture park. This work, like the one’s sponsored by the government, consists of a rock engraved with text in black Ming-style font and a supporting rock. The place where the work is set and the form of the rock follow exactly typical stone inscriptions found throughout Korea. Indeed, Asher’s stone doesn’t look like art, except that text is a bit strange.

When he visited Daejeon in 1993, Asher may have seen other stone inscriptions like “LET’S LIVE A RIGHT LIFE.” Indeed, even on the street corner of the EXPO science park stands a memorial stone inscription announcing “Daeduk Science Town.” This rock, which commemorates facilities just installed or constructed in town, functions as a message-board letting people know the fact, which can then undoubtedly be considered like a signpost. While there is no special interest for Koreans in stone inscriptions because of their familiarity or banality, there is something intriguing, even startling about Asher’s stone engraved with its message written in Korean.

Considering Asher’s past work that had humorously criticized spectacular public sculptures, which colonized public spaces, or as the banal symbols of city marketing, his work in Korea can also be considered in the same context. By using a commonly found form of a stone inscription and providing a more than different text, he used a strategy of throwing stones at the stones, or simply “stoning the stones.” As with much of his work, the stone inscription is never recognized as art at a glance, and its function as message sender overrides any need for the artist’s name. In this respect, this work’s significance lies in critical reflection or awakening, which is aroused by the coerced seeing of locals in ordinary places, rather than by the stone itself. By ending the engraving with a question mark, rather than forming a statement imposing information, he provides pedestrians with an opportunity to critically reflect on it.

In short, Asher’s work criticizes and raises a question to the apparatus of domination, which is coiled up in our daily life and its familiarity, and thereby produces that missing tension, which had disappeared between being and apparatus. What he tries to create is not a great solution or alternative, but an “attitude.” The radical character of his work is urgently needed in Korean art discourses. If people begin questioning the nature of the abundant power apparatus existing under the label of “public art” in this land, this, I think would begin to satisfy Asher’s hope.

Yoonseo Kim, Curator, Hongik University Museum of Art


[1] On April 6, 2012, The Labor Press of the North Korean government, reported that “the texts engraved into the Bak-yeon Fall reflects the will of our military and people, which tries to honor the revolutionary exploits of our great leader Kim Il-sung, who is the Sun and most merciful parent of our nation, for thousands of generations to come” and said “It was engraved with the infallible belief of our military and all people to honor our leader Kim Il-sung.”[2] On another rock underneath, about 30 people’s names who contributed to the project are engraved.[3] According to the National Assembly’s budget policy team’s “Analysis on Financial Balances of Government Departments in the Financial Year,” the “Central Committee of Right-Way-of-Life Movement” received 1 billion won under the name “Public Projects” in 2010, and received 1.5 billion won in 2011, which is an increase of 50% from the year before. The “Ministry of Public Administration and Security” budgeted 1 billion won for the Central Committee in 2012 again. The National Assembly’s budget policy team pointed out that “in the current situation where other non-profit civic organization and many public interest groups experience financial difficulty, it could be seen as an unfair practice that the government keeps budgeting billions of won only to government advocacy groups such as the “Central Committee of Right-Way-of-Life Movement” or the “National Council of Saemaul Undong Movement” without any procedure of public competition or contest.”[4] Asher, regardless of whether he likes this reputation, is well-known as a conceptual artist, or specifically, the first generation of institutional critique artists.[5]Asher”s stone inscription, which had been set in the interior of Daejeon EXPO Science Park since 1993, was moved into the exterior plaza of Daejeon Museum of Art in February 2012.

[6] Andrea Fraser, “Procedural Matters: The Art of Michael Asher,” Artforum (Summer 2008), p. 464 (fn. 4).
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Review: dOCUMENTA(13) curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

Kassel, Germany June 9- September 16

After attending documenta three times (1997 for Catherine David’s documentaX and in 2002 for Okwui Enwezor’s documenta11) the most obvious assessment is that each incarnation is the expression of its curator. Undeniably dOCUMENTA(13) has the imprint of its organizer, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, which can be defined as socio-politically comprehensive and relevant in scope. Because each documenta is a statement about the moment, while also being something of a timekeeper, each reflects the past, present and future as a continuum that shifts in time and space. Still, the sheer complexity and easy accessibility Christov-Bakargiev brings to bear on issues of political and social import surely makes it a standout among others. If Enwezor’s documenta11 was political and didactic, Christov-Bakargiev’s is ethically illuminating and edifying. dOCUMENTA(13) moves between worlds: nature and science; east and west; war and peace; cruelty and compassion; giving and receiving, and yet the spaces it occupies in Kassel are not fission with tension, but magic and a sense of depth without condescension. To continue the comparison, if David’s was too representative of the establishment and rewrote the history of art in the 20th century, Christov-Bakargiev’s brings together known and new models of contemporary art and includes many less renowned artists from all over the world, as well as the work of people from different disciplines. Moreover, this documenta palpably transcends the opening week as it spreads continuously over its 100 days with events and projects throughout the small hamlet of Kassel and beyond to other parts of this Hessen capital, as well as shifting its location from Kassel to Cairo to Kabul to Banff.

Roman Ondák, Observations, 1995/2011, 120 cuttings from a book, grouped in 72 frames Each cutting between 4,9 x 5,2 cm and 7,7 x 12,6 cm Photo: Anders Sune Berg

Without going into the difficulty, too much, of taking in an exhibit of this scale in its entirety I will say that it was, more than any previous I attended, sprawling and beyond all human capacity to take in, even a fraction of its contents without unlimited time and the ability to move through time. This is not a detraction, in fact it is one of the many things that makes dOCUMENTA(13) special. With its focus on not so much on the intransigence, but reliable fluctuations between oppositions like east and west, notions of history and the place of the artist in the exchange of goods and services objects and ideas, Christov-Bakargiev managed to bring into being an exhibit that made room for as many ways of working as can be imagined without producing any feeling of competing interests. In this way the show points to how undeniably linked we are in our differences. The focus and organization throughout give respectful space to each and every, with perhaps one exception on the right hand side of the second floor the Neue Gallerie, which felt more like an MFA exhibit than a site at the most exceptional of exhibits. However there are tremendous moments there with the likes of Wael Shawky’s Cabaret Crusades; and Roman Ondak’s Observations.

Wael Shawky, Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo, 2012 Video, color, sound 58 min. Photo: Anders Sune Bergs

The most important location in Kassel is perhaps the first floor of Fridericianum, where the exhibition begins. Quickly dispensing with all expectations the entrance gives the viewer little or nothing to hang onto in terms of art or direction with Ryan Gander’s I Need Some Meaning I Can Memorise[sic] (The Invisible Pull), (2012), which is little more than a breeze wafting through these wide open spaces. In effect Gander’s piece clears the mind, allowing the exhibit to take hold. As you ascend the floors of this building, it gets fuller, so by the time you get to the top of the building, where Kader Attia’s The Repair from Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures, (2012) and Miriam Ghani’s A Brief History of Collapses are situated, the experience is extensive and overwhelming. Still, the core of this exhibition, called The Brain, is located at the back of the building’s first floor in the rotunda, like a hippocampus storing a collective sensibility, where Christov-Bakargiev has gathered numerous objects, like Georgio Morandi’s still life objects to Sam Durant’s pillow, and the 3000-year-old Batrician Princesses, revealing a poetic wellspring of the exhibit, pulsing with ideas. However, the weight of this exhibit is in the overall sense that the works represent something specific to the artist, the place and the exhibit. Most works are not solely semantic, but represent philosophies and sciences, crafts and forms, with each work set down, shown, revealed in its complexity and density, that in turn reflect Christov-Bakargiev’s reputation for being an artists curator, as well as her ideas about commitment to ideas and practices.

Various artists, The Brain, Photo: Roman März

The effect of these elements increases as the viewing accumulates. With the incorporation of science and other biological elements, the body is not divorced from thought, rather it is shown to be one in the same or at least party to each other. The pastoral tone of documenta helps put you in touch with both the undertones of the past as well as the possible and impossible. In an exhaustive yet excellent manner, as a viewer you are sent far afield to see and feel and think as you move through space, especially in the Karlsaue where Christov-Bakargiev made beautiful use of the landscape—reviving it as a place of contemplation and discovery. Importantly, it is in the Karlsaue, which is landscaped according to an alignment of the planets, that one begins to recognize the way bodies, both material and human, relate in space.

Tue Greenfort, The Worldly House, 2012, An Archive Inspired by Donna Haraway’s Writings on Multispecies’ Co-Evolution, Compiled and Presented by Tue Greenfort, Commissioned and produced by dOCUMENTA (13) Photo: Nils Klinger

From the amazing Janet Cardiff and George Bures’s for a thousand years placed in the woods; to Massimo Bartolini’s simple but hypnotic Untitled (Wave); to Huyghe’s beautiful danger called Untilled; to Anna Marie Maiolino’s crazy and physical Being, Making, Thinking: Encounters in Art as Life; to The Worldly House… “News from Nowhere” with its fantastic setting and storehouse of ideas; to AND AND AND’s overall presence and permutations in the Karlsaue, all these and more bring together the topographical connections embedded or emplaced, as Christov-Bakargiev calls it, in the breadth of the exhibit.

Gunnar Richter, Dealing with the Era of National Socialism—A Regional Study of a Crime in the Final Phase of World War II. Methods of Researching, 1981/2012, Audio slide show, 100 slides, 35 min. Photo: Nils Klinger

One work that struck me as basic to the exhibit was Gunnar Richter’s audio slide show Dealing with the Era of National Socialism (1981),which shows how easily the horrors of war can be elided, and the necessary diligence it takes to reveal them, through systematic research, evidence about how the twelfth century Breitenau Monastery in Guxhausen was transformed over the centuries from a place of worship for Benedictine monks into a concentration camp during World War II and how all traces of its existence were scrubbed from both the public record and the local memory. Moreover, works such as Richter’s in the exhibit as a totality are not discrete. A specific link can be seen between Richter’s work and the three-channel film installation Muster (Rushes) (2012) by Clemens von Wedemeyer, housed in the Hauptbahnhof, where in fact Jews and degenerates were carted off to Breitenau. But that is not the main connection here. The films show three narrative perspectives of what Breitenau was and is: just after the German’s surrendered and the Allied forces arrived on the scene; its days as a reformatory for school girls in the 1970s; and today, as a group of disaffected youth are given a tour of its atrocities. While the intersections between these two works are obvious, there are just as many who are connected on similar terms that are not so clear. Clemens von Wedemeyer, Muster (Rushes), 2012, 3-channel synchronized HD film installation, color, sound, 3 screens: 280 x 500 cm, 3 x 27 min., Photo: Henrik StrombergBut, more than any other works these showed Christov-Bakargiev‘s investment in critically investigating the institution’s history and meaning without abandoning it as something useless and only contemptuous. Through works like Richter’s and von Wedemeyer’s documenta as an institution is shown to be larger than the exhibit, adding to the idea that investigation is useful, knowledge is power and that history and the future are linked.

The Book of Books, the supporting text of dOCUMENTA(13), is introduced by Christov-Bakargiev with a story about a proposed project to move a meteor from Argentina to Kassel. The point of this anecdote is to illustrate that things as well as people have perspectives and places. This idea is essential to dOCUMENTA(13), as is the fact that each work in the exhibit is site-specific to one degree or another. My sense, moving about, was of being a flâneur, seeing my reflection and refraction in everything I observed and likewise being defined by that which I considered. This was the first time I attended when I wasn’t in a group or on duty, so it was to be an art vacation, which was at times nicely reaffirmed by the small houses scattered throughout the park, like resort town by a lake. But a vacation it was not. However enriching an experience like documenta is, it is in a sense a trauma to consider so much at such an intense pace. I begin to think it is that strain, the sense of being pulled apart by ideas and images, balanced by wonder, that in the end is the point of this incarnation of documenta. But really when all is said and done if there is a way to summarize documenta it escapes me. I do know that as it was each time I’ve gone it’s given me a lot to think about and consider, not only about the work I saw, but about my own taste and proclivities; likes and dislikes, standards and sensibilities. The most impressive aspect of the show is the amount of transparency the curator provided into her thoughts and planning for the exhibit. Actually seeing her schematics was inspiring in and of itself, showing that something like this, so grand and comprehensive, is no less mysterious or magical because we get to see into the process.

Julia Marsh

 

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five short reviews from dOCUMENTA(13)

Miriam Ghani, A Brief History of Collapses (2011-12) 2-channel HD video installation, color, 6.1-channel sound, 22 min., Dimensions variable

Miriam Ghani, A Brief History of Collapses (2011-12) A Brief History of Collapses, 2011–2012, , 2-channel HD video installation, color, 6.1-channel sound, 22 min., Dimensions variable, Photo: Roman März

The video A Brief History of Collapses by Miriam Ghani in many ways embodies the thesis of dOCUMENTA(13). If The Brain of the exhibition its on the ground floor then Ghani’s work is like the cerebral cortex situated on the top floor of the Fredricianum. The video is a tour de force, not because it is grand, in fact it is rather simple—a split screen shows a camera moving through each buildings perhaps following a woman—but because Ghani tackles fundamental questions about perception, experience, history and the meeting of differences. What makes the video enrapturing and surprising at each turn, is how Ghani subtly weaves together the two stories of two places: Dar ul-Aman Palace in Kabul and the Fredricianum in Kassel. These places that are similar yet different, in the telling of their stories; shifting in time between their building, destruction, and current states runs deep and cuts to core issues about the lies and truths we tell ourselves about our histories and our circumstances. Ghani’s work encapsulates Christov-Bakargiev’s project by showing the interconnectivity and distinctions that inform and move rather than divide and determine.

Korbinian Aigner Apples, 1912-1960s, 396 Drawings, 10×15 cm, gouache and pencil or watercolour and colored pencil on cardboard

Korbinian Aigner Apples, 1912-1960s, 396 Drawings, 10x15 cm, gouache and pencil or watercolour and colored pencil on cardboard, Photo: Roman MärzAnyone who has been to art school has been given the assignment to do or draw or make something over and over in order to explore both the object and the method of making as well as the perception of the maker. Which is what make the repetition and care of Aigner’s project all the more stunning, because visually very little changed over the 48 years. Aigner was not some art student wasting time in art school, he was a priest who opposed the Nazi’s and was intern at Dachau where he was given the task of working in the gardens. There he survived and made meaning of that existence by developing new strains of apples. One can only image the focus of mind to continue in the face of Nazi brutality, but he did. From this perspective do Aigner’s works represent hope or denial? Disassociated activity is not necessarily separate from the will to live or survive, rather can be a means of persistence, even resilience.

Susan Hiller, Die Gedanken sind frei: 100 songs for the 100 days of dOCUMENTA (13), 2011–12 Interactive audio sculpture dispersed on 5 sites, jukeboxes, CDs, Dimensions variable

Susan Hiller, Die Gedanken sind frei: 100 songs for the 100 days of dOCUMENTA (13), 2011–12 Interactive audio sculpture dispersed on 5 sites, jukeboxes, CDs, Dimensions variable, Photo: Anders Sune Berg

When I first “saw” Susan Hiller’s work 100 songs for the 100 days of dOCUMENTA (13) in the Neue Gallerie it left me cold. A jukebox in a room, lit like a department store, with the text of each song screened onto the walls and some seating… I dismissed it as poorly placed and uncomfortable, and so I moved on. But then I heard this piece in two other contexts and saw others interacting with it in places like the café at the Hauptbahnhof and the restaurant in the Karlsaue. In these places the work came to life. 100 songs for the 100 days of dOCUMENTA (13) doesn’t act as a sound track for life because its intentions are always obvious in the listening, meaning the listening is active, not passive. Each selected track: peace songs from around the world, creates an instant relationship between listeners in the act of choosing. In all, with Hiller’s publication Book of Songs, which includes the lyrics of all 100 songs, it is one of the best take-aways from the show.

Susan Philipsz, Study for Strings, (2012), 24 channel sound installation, Duration: 13 minutes, Kassel Hauptbahnhof

Aerial view of Kassel central train station and Henschel & Sohn Mittelfeld factors. Source: Stadtmuseum Kassel.

Susan Philipsz sound installation Study for Strings, in the Hauptbahnhof, is one of those rare works that by its nature defies easy description. It is both emotional and historically resonant and therefore merits careful assessment. Based on a composition of Pavel Haas, who wrote the piece at Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1943, Philipsz’s draws apart his score, isolating the discrete parts of the piece. The work’s core effect is all the more remarkable, because Philipsz has utilized the space and layout of the train station as a staff for scoring and organizing the work like a train timetable. This concretization allows the work to slip in an out of the viewer’s consciousness, repeatedly beckoning us to follow something impossible to follow. Its broken and dispersed sounds are a siren’s call over the exhibit, haunting its consciousness of the exhibit. This work reflects the heart of the exhibit because it directly addresses Kassel and German history directly without softening the anguish of that history.

MOON Kyungwon & JEON Joonho, News from Nowhere. El Fin del Mundo, 2012, 2-channel HD film, 13:35 min.

MOON Kyungwon & JEON Joonho, News from Nowhere. El Fin del Mundo, 2012, 2-channel HD film, 13:35 min. Photo: Anders Sune Berg

Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho’s two-screen video News from Nowhere. El Fin del Mundo (2012) is a non-linear narrative about time, making and discovery. In two worlds, set apart by time, two people, a man and a woman make and alter, suggest and redefine materials leaving behind a sense that even in the end wonder does not die. The man set in the “now,” or rather the past, slowly recognizing the game is over, as the world as we know it has come to pass. While the woman set in the “future” shows the restart of what might be called civilization. In the showing we see the first dying out and disappearing, as the second engages in a rule bound world making a kind of archeology accounting of this other past. When considering this work from the perspective of science fiction the question arises what does the future tell us about the present? The materiality in each alludes to a sense that no matter how technological we become we are still in need of contact. Simultaneously the feeling or the need to make something out of nothing proposes that progress is a futile pursuit. That the past and future are one and the same like two rooms on the same floor; it’s only how we look at it.

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신현진

Julia Marsh: 예전에 쌈지스페이스에서 큐레이터로 활동한 것으로 알고 있다. 이 입주작가 프로그램을 잃은 가장 큰 손실은 무엇이라고 보는가?

Shin HyunJin/신현진 photo: sitecited

신현진 photo: sitecited

신현진: 그렇다, 쌈지스페이스에서 조금 더 많은 것들을 하지 못해 안타까움이 남는다. 하지만 쌈지 스튜디오 프로그램의 폐지가 쌈지스페이스나 미술계의 큰 손실이라고 보지는 않는다. 90년대 후반부터 2010년대까지 쌈지스페이스는 다른 대안공간과 더불어 한국 미술시장의 세계화에 성공적인 역할을 하였다. 쌈지스페이스와 쌈지 레지던시 프로그램이 그 당시 한국 현대미술 발전에 핵심적인 요소중의 하나였다고 그리고 당시의 예술계를 해석하는데 키워드를 제공한다고 생각한다.  특히, 쌈지 레지던시 프로그램의 구조는 당시 레지던시 프로그램의 동향 형성에 도움이 되었다.  90년대 후반부터 2010년 까지 세계화와 더불어 한국의 경제와 현대미술 시장 또한 적자생존과 같은 원칙을 담고 있는 신자유주의적 형태로 변화했다. 그 변화 속에서 레지던시 프로그램들은 작가들에게 명예, 발전가능성, 국제적 차원에서의 홍보와 관련된 도구 그리고 관계망 형성의 기회 제

공에 힘썼다. 쌈지 스페이스 스튜디오 프로그램 또한 이러한 목적에 특화되어 일정 기간 그 역할을 다했고, 다른 보다 큰 공공기관들이 작가들을 위한 여러 레지던시 프로그램들을 시행하기 시작하면서 쌈지 스페이스 프로그램은 마감을 알렸다.

JM: 지금 같은 글로벌 시대에 국제적으로 활성화된 입주작가 프로그램들의 장점은 무엇이라고 생각하는가?

신현진: 1998년도에 니꼴라 부리요는 『관계의 미학(Esthétique Relationnelle)』을 출간하였다.  관계의 미학 개념은 니꼴라 부리요가 90년대 특정의 미술활동을 정의하기 위해 만들어낸 것이다. 이 책에서 그는 관계형성이 미술연구의 공통분모로 적용된다고 언급하였다. 바꿔 말하자면, 리크리트 티라바니자(Rikrit Tiravanija)의 요리 접대와 같이 미술 작품의 완성이 완성된 작품 그 자체만이 아닌 만드는 과정에서 형성되는 관계가 작품의 일부가 되는 형태로 변화되었다.

다른 예로, 쌈지스페이스에서 내가 진행했던 ‘공개적으로 말하기(Publicly Speaking)’ 프로젝트는 한국의 작가들과 ‘Art Initiatives in Tokyo’간의 레지던시 교환을 통해서 이루어졌다.  카즈 사사구치(Kazz Sasaguchi)와 히로하루 모리(Hiroharu Mori) 작가의 작업 ‘학생 운전자(Student Driver)’는 교통법규를 습득하는 학생 운전자의 심리를 여행자들이 외국의 관습을 지각하는 것과 견주되었다. 이 프로젝트의 성공적인 실행을 위해 작가들이 공간을 바꿔 작업하는 과정에서 들인 시간과 임시 거처마련을 제외하고도 초대 기관으로부터 뿐만 아니라 자원 운전자와 강사 모집에까지 행정적 지원이 필요했다.

당시의 예술이 요구하는 조건과 이에 대응하는 예술기관에게 있어서 레지던시는 매우 적절한 형태이다. 레지던시 프로그램이 갖춰야 할 다른 요소로는 세계화, 그리고 증가하는 국제적 미술행사에 대한 요구등을 들 수 있다. 국제적 작가들을 한국에 데려와야 할 필요성은 위에서 나열하였던 이유들과 더불어 오랫동안 동시에 커져왔다. 미술작품 제작의 메커니즘이 위와 같은 방향으로 전환 되는 시점에서 레지던시 프로그램의 필요성은 더욱더 부각된다고 본다.

JM: 이러한 프로그램들은 현대미술 작가들에게 발돋움할 수 있는 기회를 제공하고 있나? 혹은 부당하게 이용당하는 환경을 만들고 있지는 않는가?

신현진: 기관에 따라 차이가 있다고 생각한다.

JM: 현재 홍익대학교 예술학과 미술비평 박사과정 연구주제로 사회적 기업가들의 신자유주의적 경제활동이 한국 현대미술 발전에 미치는 영향을 다루고 있다. 지금의 연구주제가 예전의 연구주제와 다른 관점 또는 연관성을 가지고 있는가?

신현진: 지금까지 뉴욕의 ‘Asian American Art Center’와 쌈지스페이스, 이렇게 두 곳의 대안공간에서11년 이상을 일해왔다. ‘Asian American Art Center’는 내가 일을 시작하던 해에 27주년을 맞이했다. 그곳에서의 경험은 미국 내의 대안공간의 구조와 역사에 관한 지식을 넓히고 더불어 한국 대안공간의 동향 파악에도 도움을 주었다. Asian American Art Center에서 일을 마친 2002년 당시는 뉴욕의 대안공간들이 문을 닫거나 운영 구조를 바꿔나가는 시기였다. 나는 한국에서 대안공간들이 개설된다는 소식을 접하고 그 중 한 곳에서 일을 시작하였다. 2008년과 2009년 무렵에는 한국의 대안공간들이 개설 된지 10년 만에 다수의 대안공간들이 문을 닫거나 서울의 변두리 지역으로 이동하였다. 미국의 대안공간들에서 30여년 만에 닥쳐온 불운이 한국에서 불과 10년 안에 일어난 것이다. 2005년과 2006년 사이에 영국의 시티 레이싱(City Racing), 스웨덴의 노르딕 스톡홀롬 미술대학, 그리고 스웨덴 말모에 있는 루지움(Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art)과 같은 지역사회에서 지역의 예술가들을 위한 대안공간 또는 비슷한 형태로 구성된 단체들 또한 구조적인 변화를 겪거나 문을 닫았는데, 이는 구조적 변화가 국제적 현실임을 보여준다.

쌈지스페이스가 문을 닫으면서, 나는 내 삶과 일에서 다음 단계로 나아갈 때라고 느꼈다. 결정을 내리기 전에 미술이 처한 상황을 사회, 경제, 역사적인 면에서 보고 싶었고, 이를 바탕으로 결정에 참고할 수 있으리라 생각했다. 그리고, 나에게 적합한 일을 찾기 위해 내가 해온 것을 학문적인 측면에서 검토해 보고 싶었다. 이 과정에서 자연스럽게 신자유주의적 경제와 정책, 경제이론과 사회학에 관해 연구하게 되었다.

동시에 미술계의 여러 사례들도 연구 중이다. 어떠한 새로운 접근이 강구되고 있는가? 오늘날의 사회와 경제 성장의 관점에서 이러한 종류의 예술 제작이 어떠한 의미가 있는가? 이러한 생각들은 미래의 논문 주제의 일부로 구상 중이다. 질문에 답하자면, 사회적 기업 활동은 미래에 하나의 예술의 요소가 될 가능성이 있다. 정부기구의 축소와 사회복지 제도의 민영화는 세계적으로 신자유주의가 영향을 준 대표적인 사례이다. 한국 사회도 예외는 아니다.  노무현 정권(2003-08)이 시작한 작은 정부 정책 그리고 이명박 정부의 문화거버넌스 정책의 시작으로 국공립 단체의 역할과 사업이 민간 단체와 기업에게로 책임이 이전되고 있다.  사회복지 또한 기업과 개개인이 책임져야 하는 문제가 되었다.  이러한 정치적 흐름은 기업의 사회 복지 사업 형성 활성화를 위해 정부가 지원보조금으로 사회적 기업가들의 2,3년의 월급을 보장해 주는 것으로 활성화 되었다.  이와 같은 정책은 사회적 공익을 포함하는 문화 기관들에게도 적용되었다. 하지만 이 정책은 성공적으로 구현되지 못했다. 60년대에 경제학자 윌리엄 보몰(W.J Baumol)은 문화경제학의 관점에서 생산성의 부족은 공연예술의 실제 비용을 장기적으로 증가시킬 것이라는 학설을 세웠다. 그리고 예술은 시장의 실패라는 원리가 적용되는 분야이므로 이들은 지원금 없이는 생존할 수 없으리라는 논리를 증명하면서 미국뿐 아니라 한국에서도 ‘국가 예술 기금(The National Endowment for the Arts) 과 문예진흥기금’ 의 설립 정당화에 이용되었으며, 1965년부터 예술을 옹호하는 논리로 자주 인용되었다. 하지만 이 학설이 몇 십년이 지난 지금의 경제상황과 시장에도 반영될 수 있는 논리라면, 예술계 안의 사회적 기업 활동은 모순일 것이다. 또는 반대로, 금방이라도 닥칠 사회변화를 예고하는 자본주의의 종결과 월스트리트의 점령 시위 등이 벌어지는 이 시점에서 사회적 기업의 이념적 측면만을 고려해 본다면 정부나 대표자들의 관리를 통해서가 아닌 개개인의 참여로 이루어진 사회적 기업 활동의 성공이란 사회변화가 요구하는 반관료주의적, 자유민주주의적 주체의 권리가 보장, 반영되는 정책일 수도 있다. 나는 정부에게 높은 세금을 내면서도 개개인이 자신의 복지에 관해 책임을 져야 하는 실정은 달갑지 않다. 만약 민간의 복지 참여 조직화가 조세를 줄여준다면 이 정책에 보다 동조할 수 있을 것이다. 그렇다고 내가 아는 한 인류의 복지라는 방향성을 가지고 있는 대항 논리는 아직 없다. 시간이 말해줄 것이고 일단 기다려보아야겠다.

JM: 한국의 민주화 이후로부터 지금까지 한국 미술시장에서 비즈니스와 미학이라는 요소가 어떠한 영향을 미쳤다고 생각하는가?

신현진: 주류 미술활동에 끼친 이러한 영향력의 특징은 노동에 관한 이론과 연결고리를 가지고 있다.

내가 주장하는 미술과 노동이론의 연결은 설치미술, 프로젝트 기반의 작업 그리고 관계적 미술과 연관된 실험적이며 개념적인 미술활동으로 제한된다. 그리고 이 주제와 관련된 텍스트가 나의 블로그(http://blog.naver.com/artfirm)에 있다.

1991년, 마우리치오 라자라토(Maurizio Lazzarato)는 “비물질 노동(Immaterial Labor)”이라는 제목의 논문을 통하여 단순한 노동구조를 가지고 있던 공업화(케인즈, 포디즘) 시대에는 육체노동 작업이 생산체계의 초점이었지만 이것이 고객관리과 이를 통해 수집된 데이터의 피드백으로 옮겨가면서 복잡하고 주관적이며 유연한 방식으로 대체되었다고, 탈공업화시대(and Post-taylorism)의 노동 환경 변화를 논증하였다. 이런 변화는 노동자들의 성향을 변화시켰고, 이들은 주관적이며 인적 관계망을 형성하고 자기홍보에 힘쓰는 개인주의적이자 자기만의 라이프 스타일을 갖추어야 하는 문화를 낳게 되었다. 사람들은 천천히 새로운 경제 시스템이 필요로 하는 특성에 맞춰 변화를 받아들였다.

이러한 상황에서 오늘날의 제조사는 소비자의 의견수렴을 생산품목 결정에 반영하는 차원을 넘어 상품 소비하는 과정 즉, (소비하는 사람들 간의 소속감과 같은) 사회적 관계를 생산하게 되었다. 그러므로 소비자의 의견 소비하는 방식과 문화의 행위가 비물질 노동으로 경제적 생산체계에 귀속되었고 비물질 노동의 정의가 변화되었다고 하겠다. 그렇다면 현대 경제적 생산체계에서 비물질 노동의 “원료”는 주관적 취향과 관계이며 생산물은 “이념적인” 환경이다.

이러한 현상은 관계 미학을 지향하는 예술작업과 많이 닮아있다. 작품에서 대중의 참여는 데이터의 기반이 되고 이 사회적 관계의 경험을 통해 대중들은 작가의 프로젝트를 완성하는 역할을 한다. 이런 의미에서, 동시대의 경제적 이론은 미술활동에 영향을 미친다. 혹은 합병된다.

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Interview with Shin HyunJin

Shin HyunJin/신현진 photo: sitecited

Independent curator Shin Hyun Jin, is currently a PhD. candidate in Art Criticism at Hongik University, Seoul, where she is researching the effects of neoliberalism on the Korean art scene. Previously she was the curator of the Ssmazie Space Residency Program from 2002-2009. In 1998 she received here MA in Arts Administration from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been involved with numerous art projects in South Korea and in the United States including work as the Program Manager and Development Associate, at the Asian American Arts Centre, NYC (1998-2002), Head of Exhibition Team at SAMUSO: Space for Contemporary Art, Seoul for Platform (2009); TACIT: perform[0], at Doosan Art Center, Seoul (2009); Site Santa Fe: Lucky Number Seven, (2008); Sound Art 201, SSamzie Space, (2008); and Shift and Change II: Alternative Spaces What Now?, SSamzie Space, (2008).  Needless to say Shin’s participation in the Korean art scene is deep, and her topic of interest is critical to understanding the dynamics of the Korean art world, which is complicated by social mores and political histories. You can also follow Shin at Blog.naver.con/artfirm. I was interested in speaking with Shin because of her experience as a curator, and an arts administrator working within an international residency program, who was educated in the west. When we sat down in January our conversation focused on the changes in the Korean art scene since the late 90’s and how social work has become part and parcel of art work, due to the structural changes in economies at the end of the last century.

The following interview questions, which where answered via email, are based on the conversation we had in January.

Julia Marsh: Previously you worked as a curator for SSamazie Space. Can you say what you see as the greatest loss of this residency program?

Shin Hyun Jin: Yes, there is a feeling inside me wishing I could do some more at that place.

Other than that, I do not think the closing of SSamzie Studio Program is a great loss because SSamzie Space, along with other alternative spaces and residency programs in Korea of the late 90s thru first 10 years of new century had successfully played a role in the development of the globalization of Korean art world. For that matter, SSamzie Space and its residence program are considered critical components of the development of Korean contemporary art practice at the time. The form of its residency program, in particular, was instrumental in such trends. I see the late 90s and first 10 years of 21st century as a period in which the Korean contemporary art scene globalized parallel to the development and adaptation of Korea’s economic neoliberal logic, which dictates principles such as survival of the fittest. In that, residency programs provide artists with honor, feelings of advancement, relevant tools for promotion on a global level and the opportunity to network. SSamzie Space’s studio program was customized for all of these objectives, which allowed SSamzie Space its fame to a certain extent until other bigger, public art institutions performed the same tasks for artists around the time SSamzie Space announced its permanent closing.

JM: And what do you think are the benefits of the artist residency in the age of globalism?

SHJ: In 1998, Nicolas Bourriaud wrote a book entitled, Esthétique Relationnelle(Relational Aesthetics). In his book, he stated that he wanted to grasp what was going on in the art practices of the 90s, and pointing out making relations was a common denominator of those practices. In other words, it can be said that creating meaning(s) in art production was shifting from making art objects to inducing it through the process of creating relations, like Rikrit Tribanija’s cooking. Another example, one I personally organized was an exchange project at SSamzie Space entitled “Publicly Speaking,” which included a residency exchange between Korean artists and Art Initiatives of Tokyo.  Among the artists included were Kazz Sasaguchi and Hiroharu Mori who’s project “Student Driver” explored the mentality of student drivers’ learning experience of traffic rules compared to that of travelers’ awareness of foreign country’s customs. The project needed administrative assistance from the host institution to recruit volunteer drivers and instructors, not to mention the period of time and a place for the artists to stay while conducting the project.

Another factor that requires residencies in the art world is globalization, and the growing demand for international art events. The need for the presence of international artists here in Korea, combined with the causes that I stated above, has for a long period of time grown at the same time. While the mechanism of art production is in transition in this direction, the residence program is a necessity.

JM: Do these programs support or exploit the circumstances of being an artist in the contemporary climate?

SHJ: That depends on institutions.

JM: You are currently enrolled a PhD candidate in Art Criticism at Hongik University working on ideas around informal economies, especially social entrepreneurs and how contemporary art developed in Korea in relation to the rise of Neoliberalism. How do these ideas differ or merge with what you previously worked on?

SHJ: I worked at two alternative spaces for more than 11 years: Asian American Art Center in New York and SSamzie Space. Asian American Arts Center celebrated its 27th anniversary when I first started working there. I was very lucky and privileged for the opportunity because there I was exposed to the alternative art scenes as well as its history in the United States and the rise and fall of alternative spaces in Korea. I worked at the Asian American Arts Center till 2002 when most New York based alternative spaces were either closing down or changing their organizational structure. I learned that alternative spaces were opening in Korea and got a job at one of them. Then by 2008-09, which was 10 years since the first alternative space was established in Korea, many alternative spaces here either closed down or moved to the fringe areas of Seoul. It seems that it only took 10 years for Korea to follow the same ill-fated course of the alternative space in the US that took 30 something years to occur. Other spaces such as City Racing in England, Nordic Institute of Fine Arts in Stockholm, Sweden, and Rooseum in Malmo, Sweden, organizations performing similar roles to alternative spaces in their respective local art fields, also either changed their institutional structure or closed down between 2005 and 2006, proving institutional changes are global in nature.

After Ssamzie Space closed it was time for me to move on to next phase of my life, career. Before make my decision, I wanted to see the state of art field in terms of society, economy and history so that I could make educated decision. It also meant that I wanted to contemplate what I had done more on an academic level in order to figure out where I fit in. This process naturally led me to study Neo-liberal economy and its policies, economic theories and sociology.

At the same time, I am conducting case studies in the art field; what new approaches are being taken, what do these kinds of art production mean in terms of social and economic development today. The ideas will later become part of my dissertation envisioning the future. As per your question, social entrepreneurship is one of the possible components of art in the future. Smaller government and privatization of social welfare projects are a few of the contingent outcomes of government’s adaptation to Neo-liberalism worldwide. Korea is no exception. Starting from the Roh Moohyun administration (2003-08), organization apparatuses that perform public service handed that role over to private organizations and companies. Even social welfare became a subject that individuals and corporations had to take care of. These trends coincided with the government’s policy to promote social entrepreneurs by providing a two or three year salary subsidy, while their companies were obliged to create social services that ensured profits. The same policy applied to cultural institutions that included social good. However, the policy presented a dilemma. In the 60s the economist W.J. Baumol hypothesized that in cultural economics a productivity lag is bound to cause a long-run increase in the real cost of the performing arts.

This theory became a justification for public subsidies, both in Korea and in the US for The National Endowment for the Arts, and was often cited by advocates for the arts since 1965. If his theory is still reflective of economic conditions and the market, social entrepreneurship in the arts is oxymoronic. Or conversely, while we hear about the end of Capitalism, and Occupy Wall Street demonstrations that herald such social change are imminent, success of social entrepreneurship may indicate the direction of social change in which involvement of individuals become necessary instead of being managed by government or representatives. I am not that fond of a direction that insist that individuals must be responsible for their own welfare even though they are paying high rate taxes to government to take care of the people.

I would be more supportive only, if DIY welfare structure meant less taxation. I do not know if there is a countervailing logic that such a direction is beneficial for humankind yet. Time will tell.

JM: How do you think the differing forces of business and aesthetics influence the art world in Korea, currently and in the decades since democratization in Korea?

SHJ: Characteristics of this influence over a majority of art practices in this period can be connected to theories of labor. My argument to connect art and theory of labor is limited to experimental, conceptual art practices that often involved with installation, project-based practices, and relational art.

In 1991, Maurizio Lazzarato wrote a paper entitled, “Immaterial Labor,” in which he argued changes in the labor conditions of the post-industrial era show how the simple manual labor style of the previous industrial era were replaced by more complicated, subjective and flexible methods due to the production mechanism’s focus shifting to managing customer relations and reflecting on collected data through the relation fed back by their production. This caused changes to the personality of laborers into populations that constitute the subjective, networking, self-promoting, and individualistic. People slowly adapted to such traits that the new economic system required.

If production today is directly the production of a social relation, then the “raw material” of immaterial labor is subjectivity and the “ideological” environment in which this subjectivity lives and reproduces.[1]

This phenomenon has a great resemblance to the art practices of relational aesthetics, which is the term Bourriaud coined to define certain art practice of the 90s. Audiences assume the role of feeding data to complete an artist’s project, while the social relation, the participating audience, experience becomes the foundation of the data. In this sense, economic theory influenced the art practice of the time.


[1] Maurizio Lazzarato. “Immaterial Labor,” Radical Thought in Italy: A Potential Politics, eds. Paolo Virno and Michael Hardt. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

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김희진

Julia Marsh: 당신의 연구와 전시기획 대부분이 대안공간들과 관련된 것들이다. 한국에서 이런 공간들은 문화의 플랫폼으로서 어떻게 정의되고 활성화 되어 있는가?

Kim Heejin/김희진 photo: sitecited.com

김희진 photo: sitecited

김희진: 한국 사회 전반, 그나마 문화를 가끔 향유하는 중산층 이상의 대중에게는 그저 “실험적이고 비상업적인” 작업을 하는 국내 신진작가들의 등용문 전시장 정도로 이해되고 있다면 다행일 것이다.

한국사회에서 아직 문화 향유는 월중 행사 정도인 극장 영화관람이나 년중 행사인 비싼 공연예술관람, 뮤지컬 관람, 어쩌다 연극 관람 정도로 밖에 파급되지 못하고 있기 때문이다. 이것은 물론 한국 대중의 문화적 수준이라기 보다는 절대적인 문화 경험과 시간 부족, 그리고 현실의 현안 해결에 급급할 수 밖에 없는 사회 현실 탓이다.  “문화 예술”이라는 단어 자체가 인식에 들어설 자리가 없다. “소비재”거나 “오락물,” “감상 대상” 정도로라도 문화 예술에 신경을 써주는 대중이 있다면 감사할 현실 아닌가.

단, 문화 예술계 혹은 유사동종 업계, 인근 학계의 전문 지식층들은 “대안공간”들의 존재와 중요성은 알고 있다. 미술이라는 전문 분야의 역할 진화와 다양한 전술까지를 모두 알 필요는 없기에 이것 만이라도 큰 수확이다. 대안 미술공간들의 “존재”는 독립영화, 인디 음악과 같이 “총체적 대안문화”로 알려졌을 것이고, 그 가치는 “실험”, “젊음”, “꿈”, “역동성” 등 다분히 피상적이고 낭만적인 리버럴리즘의 장 정도로 보기를 원하는 듯 하다. 반제도, 비주류적인 “자율성”, 반소비주의적인 “비판과 담론”, 후기 식민주의에 기초한  “주체성” 등의 문화정치학적인 가치는 피곤해 한다.

물론 대안 공간을 운영하는 사람으로서 전문가, 지식인, 소위 문화애호가들의 이 정도 인식에 만족하지 못한다. 그러나, 이것은 계몽의 문제라기 보다, 각 공간들이 특성과 관점을 부각시키면서 경험하도록 해야할 것이라 본다. 특성이 두드러진 공간은 지형에서 바로 차별화되어 기억되고, 각자에 어울리는 관객과 후원자, 협력 파트너를 만나면 된다. 대안공간들은 법인체로서 준 공공 semi-public이거나 개인사업자인 경우도 있기 때문에 민주적으로 폭넓은 관객층과 공적 책임 따위의 프레임에서 이해될 수 없다.

JM: 한국에서 이러한 공간들의 존재가 갖는 특별한 의미는 무엇이라고 생각하는가? 예술가들은 이런 공간들에 대해 어떻게 생각하는가?

김희진:한국 사회는 피상적으로 매우 역동적이고 조직화된 듯 보여도 실은 그 구성이 단순하고 작동을 결정하는 변수가 충분히 예측 가능할 정도로 제도화된 사회이다. 반공 국가안보, 경제성장, 민족주의, 유교, 군국주의, 재력, 인맥/학력 등 몇 가지 요소들의 조합이 주류, 제도권, 기득권의 경계를 결정한다. 시대에 따라 그 경계가 강화되어 경계 안팎의 관계가 경색, 상호 소외되거나 아니면 조금 느슨해지거나 할 뿐이지 혁신적인 사회구조 변화가 오지 않고 있다. 서구 미술계에서 한국의 대안미술공간을 볼 때 간과하는 부분이 바로 이 지역맥락이다. 절대 자유주의 만을 함의하지 않는다. 지역의 생활 현실이 현실 정치에 종속되어 있기 때문에 미술에서 “대안”을 얘기하는 사람들은 이미  현실적으로 소수의 위치에  놓이며 그래서 당연히 현실 정치에 대한 예민함을 지니고 정치적 운영을 구사한다. 여기서 드러나는 첫 번째 특성은 지역맥락상 당연히 비영리 대안 미술공간들은 명분이 아니라 현실적으로 문화정치적인 포지션이라는 점이다.

두 번째 특성은 바로 이 “소수적 위치”에 대한 역시 지역 맥락적인 이해이다.

앞서 말한 것처럼  주류, 제도권, 기득권이라는 세력 자체는 실상 매우 노쇠한 가치에 기대고 있기 때문에 그 존재는 다수 처럼 보이지만 실제로는 극소수에 독점되어 있다. 정서적인 다수는 더더욱 못 된다. 그래서 소수인 대안에 동의하고 응원하는 이들은 많다. 그렇다면 “소수”라는 타자적 위치를 각자가 어떻게 받아들이냐가 결국 관건이 된다. 한국의 근현대역사는 누구의 어떤 의견이건 “소수의 위치”에 대해 각박했다. 없애야 내가 사는 대상이었다. 공포와 연좌제의 대상이었다. 이 집단적 공포 때문에 감히 “소수적 위치”가 되길 주저한다. 자기가 종사하는 업계의 “소수적 위치”라는 현실에 개입하느냐 마느냐 하는 각자의 선택이다.

내가 일하는 공간 “아트 스페이스 풀”(전 대안공간 풀)에 대한 작가들의 인식은 따라서 각 시대현실에서 개인이 지녔던 사회, 정치, 대안, 소수에 대한 인식에 따라 천차만별이다. 다만 이 공간이 사회에서 미술인이라는 소수자의 위치, 미술인들 중에서 현실에 참여적인 태도를 지닌 소수자의 위치에 충실했었다는 사실에는 이의가 없었다. 즉, 구체적인 작업 방법론의 차이 문제가 아니라 그런 태도, 그 위치를 감행할 의지가 있는 작가들이 찾는 공간이었다. 일반적으로 대안공간들이 작가로서 소위 “대세”나 “다수”에 대한 이러한 태도의 차별화, 간단히 말해 “개념 있는 작가”라는 포지션을 가시적으로 드러내는 공간들로 위치되어는 있는 것 같다.

그리고 분명히 불합리한 전시 관행이나 소비주의에 종속된 미술시장, 시장기회주의적인 작품생산, 소통이 없는 소모적 도구화에 불만을 품은 안티테제를 다루고픈 작가들에게는 절대적인 등용문이 된다.

JM: 한국에서 벌어지는 전시와 예술작업의 이념적 면모에 대해 말해줄 수 있는가?

김희진:어떤 이념적 면모를 말하는지 모르겠다. 정치적 이념을 의미하는 것이라면 일단 “생각”이 전혀 다른 작가들은 생각이 전혀 사람끼리 친구가 되기 힘들 듯이 평소 만날 기회가 없다. 혹여 정치적 이념이 확고한 작가라 해도 미술작업 자체는 작가가 지닌 다양한 이념들의 종합 과정에서 생겨나기에 작업 = 이념이 될 수 없다.

전시는 작가와 기획자의 이러한 유기적 융합에 더해 제도, 예산, 공간, 시간, 사람, 비가시적 기운과 같은 무수한 조건들에 대응하는 과정에서 만들어진다. 그것이 만들어진 다음에도 “전시 경험”은 또 다른 변수들의 영향으로 전혀 다르게 전개될 수 있다.

JM: 지난 10에서 15년간 한국과 국제 예술계간의 상호작용의 변화에 대해서는 어떻게 느끼는가?

김희진:당연히 그 수는 증가했고 방법도 다양해졌다. 소위 수평적인 관계와 균등한 협업 조건도 많이 개선되었다. 내가 걱정하는 것은 계량적, 가시적 지수 이면의 상호 인식 문제인데, 예컨대 서구에 대한 사대주의적 태도는 일소되려면 아직 멀었다. 그 문제는 오히려 매체들이 더 심하다. 외국의 어느 시골 어디서 한 전시에 호들갑을 떨거나 겉만 번지르르했지 도대체 감응이 없는 전시, 해외 진출 따위로 작가 성장을 메기는 매체들이 사대주의의 깊은 뿌리 뿐 아니라 숨가쁜 재생산을 조장하는 것을 보면 자괴감에 빠지곤 한다. 북미나 유럽 경제가 모두 흔들린 판국에 사대주의 본질은 이미 부실하기 짝이 없기 때문에 사대주의는 천박한 짝퉁 외국 병이나 억감정에서 기인한 역 오리엔탈리즘으로 나타나고 있다. 그 중 제일 나쁜 것은 무수한 주변 지역들에 대한 식민주의적 시선이다. 항상 인식태도가 관건이다.

JM: 과거와 비교했을 때 한국의 예술가들이 직면하는 문제점들은 어떤 것인가?

김희진: 시장과 제도를 다루는 운영법이다. 여기서 “제도”는 공공 제도뿐 아니라 기획, 비평, 유통 전반에 걸친 광의의 제도를 포함한다.  작가들은 작업과 작품 생산 과정에 연루된 사회 운영에는 탁월한데, 정작 미술의 무수한 제도들을 주체적으로 운영하는 노하우가 부족하다. 항상 미술교육 커리큘럼의 후진성, 작가들의 폭넓은 사회경험 부족 등 비슷한 이유가 지적되는데, 나는 “제도” 환경 자체가 90년대 이후 거의 맨땅에서 만들어지기 시작한 것이라 시간이 필요하다고 본다. 더 심각한 문제는 이러한 제도들 자체가 비전문적이고 악질인 경우가 많기 때문에 작가들이 제도를 경험한다고 해서 배울게 없다는 것이다. 전문가가 없는 사회에서 얼렁뚱땅 실패하면서 정법과 편법이 난무한다. 작가들을 나무랄 수 없는 얘기다.

또 하나는 위에서 말한 대로 한국 밖에 대해 주체성과 존중, 경쟁과 상생이 균형 잡힌 동등한 플레이어라는 인식을 가져야 한다는 것이다. 언어 문제는 그 다음에 따라온다.

JM: 글로벌리즘이 한국의 예술작업 범위에서 수행하는 역할은 무엇인가? 한국 예술가들이 이런 역학관계에 대해 어떻게 생각하고 있다고 보는가?

김희진:참조 대상은 많이 되고 있지만, 아직 동등한 플레이그라운드라는 체감도는 떨어진다. 이 부분은 개인의 문제라기 보다, 매체, 정치권 등 현실 사회정치 영향이 크다고 본다. 적어도 지난 몇 년간 한국의 대 글로벌 인식은 경직되었다고 느껴진다. 항상 불평하는 바인데, 나라가 대외적으로 보여주기용 거짓말을 일삼는데 어떻게 국민들에게 글로벌리즘이 편안하게 체감될 수 있겠는가. 서로 눈 가리고 아웅하는 거다. 외국 가서 전시하면 글로벌인가? 한국에 와있는 외국 작가들하고 밥 먹으면 글로벌인가? 한국에 와서 몇 년째 체류하며 작업하는 외국 작가들이 있지만 로컬 씬하고 관계 형성이 잘 안 되는 거다. 기획씬이나 개별 작가들의 작업, 하물며 미술판 자체의 향방에 큰 변수가 되지 못한다.

제도적 장치로 글로벌 게이트를 열어 놓은 것은 좋으나, 이제 글로벌 척도는 더 이상 수치가 아닌 질적 단계로 전개되어야 한다.  전문 번역인, 하다 못해 자기 생각을 개진하는 코디네이터 인력도 턱없이 부족한데, 어떻게 미술작업에 글로벌리즘이 영향을 끼칠 것을 기대하겠는가.

JM: 이전 인터뷰에서 당신은 1980년대의 민중운동과 함께 했던 ‘두렁’ 운동에 대해 특별한 관심을 가지고 있는 것으로 보였다. 당시의 예술작업과 지금에 있어 이런 운동들이 어떤 영향력을 끼쳤는가?

둘 사이의 차이에 대해, 보다 당신의 관심사인 두렁을 방법론적으로 활용하여, 좀 더 자세히 설명해 줄 수 있는가?

김희진: 과거 80년대와 현재 시점의 미술에 두렁이 끼친 영향을 정의할 수 있는 프레임 자체가 형성되어 있지 않다. 두렁의 활동 양상이 이미 미술제도권 밖에서 움직였기에 미술계 내에 아카이브나 비평이 정리되어 있지 않고, 한다해도 이들에 대한 미술계, 미술사학계의 견해는 여전히 분분할 것이기 때문이다. 따라서 두렁의 방법론을 물으셨는데, 미술사에서 경이로와 할 만한 혁신적 형식 실험이나 전위적 시도는 없었는지 모른다. 내가 지닌 몇 개의 아카이브를 통해 보아도 그들의 방법론은 생활에서 떠오르는 온갖 방법들로 체계적으로 정리되어 있지 않다.

나는 두렁을 통해 작가주의를 포기했다는 이유만으로 “미술”이 아닌 사회운동인양 어정쩡하게 타협해 주는 한국 미술계의 편협한 카테고리와 위선 자체를 지적하고 싶다.  또 하나는 미술가-시민-노동자 간에 계층이 극명히 구분된 당대 현실에서 계층 인식을 넘어 문화가 함직한  현실 개혁 일꾼,  씻김과 소통의 제사장 같은 롤 모델을 제시했었다는 점을 존경한다. 미술가라는 자의식과 싸웠고, 작법이라는 스타일에 초연했으며, 시민, 노동자라는 위치에서 당시 그들 주변의 대중에 소통하는 실질적 방안을 시도하고 이론을 세우려 했었다. 민중미술은 이미 하나의 작법이나 하나의 소집단이 아닌 미술에서 민주화를 향해가는 여러 작가들의 총체적인 움직임이었다. 따라서 카테고리로 보면 두렁은 민중미술운동에 속한다. 내 생각에 두렁은 민중미술 중에서도 가장 주변부, 외곽, 낮은 곳,  보이지 않는 생활 일선에서 펼쳐진 움직임이다. 사실주의 계열 중에서 가장 현실주의적이랄까? 당연히 여러 사실주의적 성향의 작가들에게 두렁은 이미 아름답고 경의로운 운동이었다. 그것을 어찌 미술적 성과 만으로 평가하는가.

21세기 현재 문화예술인들의 “일”과 “생활”은 여전히 비참하고, 사회 전반에는 커녕 노동계에서 조차 이 문제가 공론화되지 못하고 있다. 당연히 일과 생활 그라운드에서 고민했던 두렁이 참조 대상이 되지 않겠는가. 일과 생활이라는 작업의 “현실”을 고민하는 이들에게 방법론과 전술, 조직적 전개 태도는 달라고 두렁이 왜 귀하게 여겨지지 않겠는가.

JM: 지난 인터뷰에서 POOL이 지역활동을 벌이고 있다고 했다. 이에 대해 좀 더 설명해 줄 수 있는가? 그리고 양자간에 있어 POOL의 상호작용이 얼마나 중요하다고 보는가?

김희진: 이번 <군산 리포트 : 생존과 환타지를 운영하는 사람들>(www.altpool.org 참고)의 기획문에 기술했듯이 풀은 이미 <지역 연구와 미술> 시리즈를 90년대부터 지속하여 왔다. 지리적인 영토 범위로 말하면 좋아들 하니까 그 방법을 써서 말하면 시리즈는 이른바 성남부터 중동, 발칸, 카이로로 이어졌다가 다시 군산으로 이어진 것이다. 일단 조사, 연구 기반의 장소 특화적 공공 프로젝트이기에 체계적 계획 없이 조건이 될 때마다 한다. 왜 하는가의 이유는 간단하며 나는 이 지점에서 매우 현실적이다. 개인이 자신을 실존적으로 성찰하고 확장하기 위함이 가장 이기적인 이유이며, 다음은 타인을 만나고 배우기 위해, 즉 소외를 넘어선 말걸기를 익히기 위해, 다음은 각자가 사는 곳과 다른 지역의 공간 이론을 통해 다중적 세계관을 만들어가기 위해 한다.

해당 지역 주민들과 어떤 성과를 보는가 묻는 질문은 미술가들이 가장 잘 할 수 있는 사유, 표현, 성찰, 비젼의 기여를 약소하다 여기는 인식에서 나온다. 지역 주민들의 문제는 해당 지역 정치인들과 주민들이 풀어가야 할 문제이다. 작가는 정치인이고 주민이고 간에 지역에 있는 이들의 사회현실과 역사, 정서에 감응하고 표현해 서로 더 잘 보도록 해주는 역할을 한다.

 

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Interview with Kim Heejin

Kim Heejin photo: sitecited.com

Kim Heejin is the current director of Pool (formerly know as Alternative Space Pool) since 2010. Her curatorial projects include Unconquered: Critical Visions from South Korea at the Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2009); John Bock: 2 handbags in a pickle on view simultaneously at Arko Art Center and Insa Art Space (ISA) (2008); Dongducheon: A Walk to Remember, A Walk to Envision at the New Museum, New York City and, ISA Seoul (2007-08). Most recently she curated 2012 pool <Local Studies and Art Series>: “Gunsan Report : Operators of Survival and Fantasy” and From Blank Pages in collaboration with Reuben Keehan, also at Pool. Before joining Pool Kim was the director of Insa Art Space (2006-09). I first met Kim while looking at the Jon Bock exhibit of video works housed at ISA. Kim was very kind and invited me to tour the upstairs to the space where ISA had amassed and housed an archive of Korean artists’ documentation and their works. One thing was clear from my conversation with her that day: she was critical and direct. She spoke was without guile and more importantly she was a fierce advocate for good and meaningful art. Kim’s opinions are illuminating and crucial to any understanding of the whole of Korean culture, let alone the Korean art scene. When we sat down on a very cold day last winter she jumped right in, speaking about the interwoven problematic of internationalism and the regional context faced by both artists and culture.

The following interview questions, which where answered via email, are based on the conversation we had last winter.

 

Julia Marsh: Most of your research and curating has involved alternative spaces. In Korea how is that kind of space defined and utilized as a platform of culture?

Kim Heejin: For people participate in art and culture once in a while in Korean society alternative spaces are defined as a gateway for rising artists, who make “experimental and nonprofit” artworks.

Watching movies once a month, or buying expensive theater, musical or performance art tickets for the year may be the only culture Koreans participate in. This happens, not because their lack of interest, but because people do not have time or experience with various types of culture and art; in reality, Korean society is already too busy resolving the problems it has now, beyond building up easy access for culture and art. There is then no space for “culture and art.” It would be great if there were viewers who participate in culture and appreciate it at the very least as a “consumer good,” “entertainment” or “aesthetic experience.”

However, people in the art world and the culture in general know about the existence and importance of “alternative spaces.” This achievement is possible because it is not necessary to understand the evolution of art and its various strategies. The “existence” of alternative spaces is understood as “general alternative culture” like experimental films and indie music, viewers consider its’ value as “experimental” “young” “ideal” “active,” etc.; a place of superficial and romantic liberalism. These same viewers have grown tired of subjects like the “autonomy” of the anti-establishment minority, “criticism and discussion” of anti-consumerism and “independence” based on colonialism, which contain the value of socio-political ideology.

As a person directing an alternative space, I am not satisfied with the perspective of alternative spaces by experts: intellectuals and so-called art lovers. However, this is not a problem of enlightenment; it is about showing character and the perspective of each space and creating spaces for experience. The space that has a specific character is easily remembered and meets the approval of audiences, supporters, and corporation partners who associate with the concept of each space. Alternative spaces cannot be understood as democratic by a wide range of people and in the frame of public responsibility, because they are corporate bodies, which are semi-public or individual business.

JM: Do you think there is anything unique about it’s presence in Korea? How do artists think of these spaces?

KHJ: Korean society seems very active and organized, but the community has a very simple structure and it is institutionalized to allow for the predictable variables of the corporation. The combination of a few elements, such as anti-communist national security, economic growth, nationalism, Confucianism, militarism, wealth, personal connections/educational background determines the majority, or mainstream. The social structure has not changed that much as each generation changes, since these boundaries have been reinforced to strain and isolate or loosen relations. When the Western art world sees Korean alternative spaces, what gets missed is the context or region. Alternative for art spaces in Korea does not mean only liberal. The real life of each region is subordinated to politics, so people who talk about “alternative” in the art world automatically are placed in a minority, which leads them to have a sensitive understanding of the current political administration. In reality, nonprofit alternative spaces in Korea operate within the social political position of their regional contexts, not under the its expected pretexts.

The second characteristic is the “peripheral” in the regional context.

As previously stated, majority, or mainstream strength relies on old and infirm values that make it appear that they number in the many, but actually they are a minority of the people. These tired values are consequently not affective on the many. Therefore, there are many people who support minority alternatives. Then, how to accept “minority” as a position of otherness for each of us is crucial. Korean modern history was heartless to the “minority position.” The elimination of the minority insured the survival of the rest. Everyone lived with the fear of guilt by association. The collective fear caused people to hesitate to be in the “periphery.” It is then a choice for each of us to be involved or not to be involved in the “periphery.

Artists’ opinions on “Art Space POOL,” where I work, are various and their opinions depend on their social, political, alternative, awareness of the minority. However, I have no objection to the fact that the space has been faithful to its duty as a place for artists who are marginalized in society and as a place for those artists who participate in that reality. In other words, POOL was a place for artists who were willing to live the reality of this position and place, and not dependent on any theory of making art. I think alternative art spaces in general are positioned as places that reveal the artist’s stance, a differentiation from co-called “trendy” or “popular,” in short, “artists with ideas.”

Also, the space is absolutely a gateway for the artists who oppose the art market which is subordinated to an illogical exhibition system and consumerism, art production dependent on market opportunism, and consumptive production without communication.

JM: Can you speak to the ideological aspects of exhibition and art making in Korea?

KHJ: I am not sure about which ideological aspects you are referring to. If you mean political ideological aspects, as there is no chance to meet artists who have different opinions, which is like people who have different “thoughts” cannot be friends. Even though the artist who has a firm political ideology, their artwork itself is created with a mixture of many different ideologies: artwork = ideology doesn’t make sense.

The exhibition is made in a process of organic fusion between artist and exhibition manager, plus, they all have to face the enormous conditions of the system, budget, space, time, people and unforeseen affects. Even after all those things are met, the “exhibition experience” can be changed and open differently depending on the influence of other variables.

JM: How do you feel the interaction between Korea and the global art world has changed in the last 10 or 15 years?

KHJ: Of course, the number has increased and method is diversified, naturally. The conditions of the so-called horizontal relationship and the equality of collaboration have been much improved. What I am worried about is not the quantitative, visible index, but the problem of mutual realization, which is the hidden side of this paradigm. For example, the toadying attitude towards the West is far from being stamped out. The media has worsened this situation. I feel a sense of shame when the media acts hastily on a very, small exhibitions in the countryside of foreign countries, or superficial exhibitions that have no impact, or rating artists depending on overseas experiences. It seems like the media leads with this obsequious attitude and also sets the scene for hectic reproduction. Since the economies of North America and Europe are faltering, the essence of toadyism is being redefined as a regressive orientalism that is a stubborn expression about the West. The worst part is the colonialist attitude towards many other regions. Consciousness is always the critical point.

JM: What are the challenges facing Korean artists today in contrast to the past?

KHJ: The main challenge is the method of operating in the market and the overall system. “System” here means not only the public system, but includes planning, criticism, and distribution. Artists are very good at managing the environment for making art, however as individuals they are actually very weak in managing the various systems of the artworld. The backwardness art education curriculum and the lack of practical experience of the artists has been pointed out, so I think the current environment, which was created by the “system” in the late 90s, needs time to develop. The more serious problem we have is the system is unprofessional and corrupt, therefore, artists cannot learn from their experiences in this system. Without experts in society, appropriate methods are being ignored for expediency. We cannot blame this on the artists.

As I stated earlier, we have to believe that we are equal players outside of Korea and accept respect individuals, while balancing the challenge and coexistence of these counterparts. The problem of language comes after that.

JM: What role does globalism take in the scope of art making in Korea? How would you describe how Korean artists think about this dynamic?

KHJ: Globalism has been referenced many times but we are far from feeling that we are in the same playground. In reality, it is not the problem of the individual, rather it is the influence of the socio-political situation, like the media and government. Since our government often lies to foreign countries, how could people feel easy about globalism? With transparent duplicity, they bury their heads, ostrich-like, in the sand. Is it globalism when you do an exhibition in another country? Does It mean globalism if you have a dinner with non-Korean artists in Korea? There are many artists from other countries living in Korea for years but have found creating a relationship with the local scene in Korea doesn’t work well. Globalism is not affecting projects, artworks by individual artists and moreover the direction of the art world in Korea.

Opening a global gateway within the institutional system is good, but it has to unfold with a qualitative improvement, and not numerical value any more. How could you expect globalism to impact artwork since we lack human resources in the field, such as professional translator and coordinators who can makes statements about their thoughts?

JM: From our earlier conversation I understand you have a particular interest in Doorung movement, which was active alongside the Minjung movements of the 1980s. What kind of impact did these movements have on artistic practices then and now?

Can you elaborate on the differences between the two, but more specifically your point of interest in Doorung as a methodology?

KHJ: There is no frame on how Doorung influenced perspectives on art in the 80s and the present. Because Doorung movement was already active outside art circles, there is no archive or criticism in the art world; even if there are, there will be differences of opinions on Doorung between the art scene and art historians. Therefore, when you asked me about the methodology of Doorung, there may not be any innovative, experimental formation or radical attempt that will be accepted extraordinarily by the Korean art historians. The few archives that I have show their methodology is not organized well and it arises from many ways of living.

I would like to point out the Korean art circle’s narrow-minded categorization and hypocrisy because they consider Doorung a social movement, not “Art” just because Doorung gave up on authorship. Additionally, I highly respect Doorung’s suggestion that culture can move beyond class and their ideas about role models, like the worker who reforms society or the shaman who purifies, at a time when our society was separated clearly between classes like Artist-Citizen-Worker. They were fighting for a sense of identity as artists, remaining aloof about the method of making these works, while trying to build up a practice and theory to communicate with the people in the role of citizen and workers. There was also Minjung Misul (Korean Folk Art), which was already the artists’ democratization movement and did not represent only one method of making or one small group. Therefore, Doorung is the part of Minjung Misul. In my opinion, Doorung is the movement that took part on the edges of the outskirts, in low places, existing hidden from sight in Minjung Misul. The most realistic Realism? For many artists who tend towards realism, Doorung is perhaps the movement that possesses the already beautiful and extraordinary. So how can you evaluate it by only the outcomes in artworks?

For 21st Century cultural producers, both “work” and “life” are still miserable, however these problems and issues are not a focal point in the general society, let alone for labor relations. Of course Doorung, which was concerned early on with work and life on the ground, which can be a reference for our current situation. For people who are concerned about the “reality” of work and life, Doorung has been highly esteemed even though they had a different methodology and strategy, organization.

JM: In our earlier conversation you mentioned that POOL is doing outreach in the provinces. Can you discuss these plans and how POOL’s interaction is important to both partners?

KHJ: As I wrote in the proposal for Gunsan Report: “People Who Manage to Survive and Fantasy”(www.altpool.org), POOL has been working on the “Area Study and Art” series since the 1990s. To describe this project by the geographic region is pleasing perhaps, so here it is: it started from Sungnam to the Middle East, Balkan, and Cairo and continued to Gunsan. To run this specialized public project, research and study started when the conditions allowed without any systematic plan. Why we did this is very simple, and my ideas are very realistic. The most selfish reason is to extend and add introspection to my existence, and the next is to meet and learn from others. In other words, to communicate beyond isolation, and to create a wide view of the world through the place we are living and the spatial theory from other regions.

As to whether the project has been successful with local residents can only come from the recognition that the artists’ contributions are weak although reasonable, expressive, introspective, and visionary, which are things that artists are best at. The problems that local residents have have to be solved between them and their local politicians. The artists have a role to show both to the government and local residents by responding and expressing their perspective of the society, history and sentiment so these groups can maybe see better.

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Review: Dongchun Yoon

2012 Henkle InnoArt Project “Bond the Moment”

March 29 – May 24, 2012

Although this was a group show I have little to say about Sulki & Min, or Sungmin Hong’s work, as they were nearly as compelling or interesting to me the night I happened to find myself in Gallery Loop. Because my presence there was a fluke, I was not focused on the whole show and just followed my eyes to what was attractive in that moment. I was drawn to Dongchun Yoon’s graphic, fun but very serious works. Yoon’s Donald Sultan-like graphics, maps and dot patterns in eye popping colors and vibrating arrangements, play with light and perception, quickly got me thinking about how he make his images. After a brief inspection it was, however, clear that what was reflecting back at me was more that formal, but rather a critique of the conditions in the relationship between South Korea and United States as they pertain to Jeju Island. In particular, “Gurumbi-43 Holes” (2012) is so formal, fantastic and frightening as its content slowly unfolds as scatter shot. The impact of Yoon’s work is made possible by his simple and surprising mastery of his mediums and his delicacy of composition. This is obvious in the “Junction 2” (2012), which shows Korea to be a paper cutout peeling away from a blue field. Both poetic and precise the metaphor is palpable, yet inviting. Another good example, “Junction 1” (2012), speaks to the direct and perhaps ridiculous nature of conflict, which depicts five pairs of guns, shown in profile, pointed nose to nose, in halftone with a red screen on the left and blue on the right. This image, like his other works, induces us with eye-popping visuals that are followed closely with a solid punch. Making good art from political strife is not an easy task. That Yoon’s works demonstrate this with such seeming ease and engaging manner is the mark of both a skilled artist and consummate works.

Julia Marsh

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Review: Joongho Yum

The Taste of Others

One and J. Gallery May 3 -23, 2012

When I walked into One and J. Gallery I was pleasantly surprised by the lovely assemblages by Joongho Yum. It immediately struck me that each arrangement reflected different artists: Raymond Petition, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Luc Tuymans, Jasper Johns, even Jimmie Durham, as though each arranged were a homage to earlier, better times of art making. This was just my idea, which the show’s title and in fact the concept of Yum’s work makes clear I am free to conjure. However, as my idea above shows taste garners bias. This show purports to be the result of a conversation of tastes and choices. The works were subjected to a selection process that started with Yum, but ends with five other artists responding to his images in their own way. However, by giving his work over and accepting the results, the artist looks to frame this making as the subject, so rather than in each object or image, the choosing of others is the locus of his intentions and therefore the art, much like a curator who controls an exhibition outcome. In this game each participant brought to bear their own formal, poetic and perhaps political positions that occupy the spaces that exist between aesthetics and concepts, objects and reflections. Although the word taste is used here in the play between Yum and the other artists, a better word might be style, in that what results is a stylistic interpretation, one that reflects preference, not knowledge. Because taste is the domain of the aficionado or appraiser, the informed, the use of the word here is ambiguous in the outcome. What is important here is how choice belies intent. But intent cannot be supplanted by choice alone. However nice looking or even interesting, in Yum’s work intent, the cornerstone of art making, goes off course, becoming tangled in the inclinations of others.

Julia Marsh

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