Let the Sunshine In!

It was a long, cold and sometimes lonely winter. But spring is here and finally it is warm.

Although it has also been a long while since my last edition, this installment of sitecited reflects winter’s labor and meaningful encounters. Actually this last six months have been quite full with travel and other projects, including the exertion to finish a draft of my long awaited manuscript: Looking at Lincoln: Pictures and Persuasions. Also last month, I attended the conference MediaCities 4 (Buffalo) via Skype, where I presented a paper titled “Detouring, Dérives and Destinations: The Dislocated Performance Practices of Seo Hyun-suk.” This paper is published now in the conference proceedings and I hope later to expand it for another publication.

Another smaller project I worked on earlier this spring can be found in the updated the links. This link will take you to Karolina Bregula website where you can see her photograph The Street, about Nam June Paik’s The More, the Better, which was featured in the exhibition The Stranger at Gallery Loop in April. I wrote a short essay, which you can read on that link. This text is now the basis for a longer essay I will be delivering at the College Art Association conference in February 2014.

The exhibition Bregula’s work was included in was intended to be a forum to note the accomplishments of international artists in residence in Korea. However, by calling the exhibition The Stranger the curator raised questions about what it means not only to invite international artists to Korea, or anywhere for that matter, but who the residency program benefits, as well as core ideas about such kinds of international artistic residencies. In essence the sentiments provided in the accompanying (albeit poorly translated) essay was that although artists are welcome to come and work, they will always be decenterened and therefore not able to have anything resembling a legitimated experience, because they will always be alienated outsiders. I understand this as part of self-other recognition theory, but the essay in English made it seem as though any attempt to bridge gaps is futile, veering far too close to prevailing and unfriendly attitudes towards non-Koreans living and/or working in Korea. The essay, as well, made me wonder once again what is the point of inviting artist and curators from around the world to live and work here, if not to bridge the gaps between ignorance and understanding of different cultures. I’ve met many participants over the years here and most were entirely enamored and found their experience rich and textured. Are they wrong?

I recently had the good fortune to see a good example of work that gracefully and knowingly represents being a stranger in a  strange land. Last month the printing plates and watercolors of Greek artist Nikos Papadimitriou, were exhibited of at the cafe SLOW, in Chungju, where he lives and works. These works are so to the point about being here and there while being here. The small carefully painted female figures dressing hanbok juxtaposed to the larger perhaps cruder but more detailed plates of women in Greek tradition garb, offer a dialog about intimacy and distances. The small, but elegant Korean figures show the out of reach quality of other cultures, while the images of his own show  the familiarity, even disregard we may have for our own. A longer look at these images will be offered in the next issue.

As part of my continuing series of interviews with Korean art professionals, included in this issue are two interviews with independent curators Yang Eunhee and Shin Sung Ran. Also I am pleased to publish Oh Hyeong Jin’s review of We Are Just Bits curated by Lee Kyung Min, and an essay by me about a new project I am working on, which came out of another encounter in March. Before beginning my course Space and Moving Images at Yonsei I was asked to do presentation. The text included here is a development of one part of that presentation. There are four other parts, which will be included in subsequent issues. This essay is an exercise in review: a look back over my work as I prepare to make new work.

In the coming months I will be finishing the interview series with Korean art professionals I started in the winter of 2012 and beginning a new series with international art professionals living and working in Korea. There are six more interviews in the current series, including conversations with photographers Nanda Choo and Joseub, and then with curators Cho JinSuk and Kang Soojung. I am seeking to round out this series with two younger artists who are just getting started after completing their graduate studies. Although I have ideas, I ask for your suggestions and welcome your ideas on artist who might be interesting and appropriate for the site.

Thank you again for reading! See you in July!


June 5, 2013