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Special Exhibition – Imaginary Asia
Imaginary_Asia_webpage
Overview
Exhibition Title
Imaginary Asia
Period
9 March, 2017 – 2 July, 2017
Venue
Nam June Paik Art Center 2 F, Gallery 2
Opening
5 pm 9 March, 2017
Curated by
Jinsuk Suh (Director, Nam June Paik Art Center), Hyun-Suk Seo (Graduate School of Communication and Arts Yonsei University)
Artists
(17 teams) AES+F, Ahmad Ghossein, Aida Makoto, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Dinh Q. Lê, Harun Farocki, Hayoun Kwon, Ho Tzu Nyen, Ji Hye Yeom, Meiro Koizumi, Moon Kyungwon & Jeon Joonho, Muntean & Rosenblum, Nalini Malani, Song Dong, Wael Shawky, Xu Bing, Yang Fudong
Works
23 works
Program
[Artist Talk I]
– Date: 9 March 3 pm
– Participating Artists: Song Dong
– Moderator: Hyun-Suk Seo
Hosted and Organized by
Nam June Paik Art Center, Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation
Sponsored by
SHILLA STAY
Introduction
Nam June Paik Art Center (Director, Jinsuk Suh) introduces its special exhibition Imaginary Asia from March 9 to July 2, 2017. On 9th March at 3 pm, Hyun-Suk Seo will host the Artist Talk program of Song Dong in conjunction to the exhibition. Imaginary Asia, comprising 23 pieces in the moving image genre by seventeen artists from various regions of Asia who subjectively imagine different historical experiences shared across the continent, aiming to engage in a new form of self-embodied history making as an emergent trend in contemporary art. Neither conforming to the official ‘History’ nor falling back on literary speculation, their works recognize the limits of authoritarian historicism. The exhibition is an open–ended, far from complete or comprehensive, archiving of distantly connected layers of histories.

The exhibition presents two categories of artistic imagination, the first of which consists of pieces that revolve around stories that hail from various regions in Asia, from past to present. The works in this category are mainly by East Asian artists, expressing the historical identities of their own countries. The second category comprises works that feature varied perspectives toward Asia’s present and future. Coming from countries that straddle the border between Asia and West, they explore the harmony of and conflict between the two cultural hemispheres. The exhibition will be the first occasion in Korea to present Vietnamese artist Din Q Le’s Everything is A Re-Enactment and WTC in Four Moments, which both explore the theme of war, as well as Chinese artist Xu Bing’s Book from the Ground Pop-up Book (Day) and Book from the Ground Pop-up Book (Night). The exhibition will also host the global debut of Song Dong’s new work Beginning End (2017).

This exhibition presents works by seventeen artists who have dealt with aspects of Asian experiences through moving images. These artists propose dialogic and imaginative history–making instead of adhering to conventional forms of historiography as a way of documenting and explicating Asia’s past and present. Often challenging the boundaries between fact and construction, their works amount to sketches of multimodal realities.

Video Art, initially conceived by Nam June Paik, has been expanded to encompass all moving images with the advances in digital technology in the twenty first century. Across all kinds of media including video, film, and animation, the differentiation between visual genres is now becoming obsolete. Photographs and videos no longer represent reality. The moving image has acquired a most flexible and expandable potential, allowing for the coexistence of fact and fiction, and dissolving the boundary between private and public thought. <Imaginary Asia> will serve as the seat for multi-layered explorations of the moving image as a hybrid genre in contemporary art.
List of Works
1. AES+F(Russia)

Allegoria Sacra, 2011, 5 channel video, color, sound, 39’39”
© AES+F, Courtesy of the artist & Multimedia Art Museum Moscow and Triumph Gallery

Multi-channel video installation piece Allegoria Sacra was inspired by Giovanni Bellini, who discarded the fetters of religious art and spearheaded Renaissance form in the fifteenth century. The international airport symbolizes the Christian Purgatory as the setting – a place of relegation for souls that fall short to being granted entry into heaven yet deserve better than condemnation to hell. Purgatory is not the site of judgment, but rather a gateway for cleansing. Ties to life are severed, leaving earthly existence behind, and then reconnected to the next life ahead, with people awaiting new arrivals while bidding farewell to the departing. At this purgatory of an airport, we become a member of a special district on Earth, sharing the liminal state between body and soul. This piece embodies the Eastern view of seeing finite and infinite life as one through the liminal sphere of Purgatory.

2. Ahmad Ghossein (Lebanon)
2-Ahmad-Ghossein_아흐마드-호세인

The Fourth Stage, 2015, single channel video, color, sound, 37’00”

Chico is a magician for whom Lebanese artist Ahmad Ghossein himself assisted in his childhood. Traveling the southern regions of Lebanon, they dazzled countless children. The Fourth Stage tracks Chico as he grows farther apart from the world. Ghossein, film director and video artist known for his experimental documentaries that explore the hidden contexts of reality along the borders of history and fiction, resumes his journey by investigating the boundaries of historical reality and fiction. In The Fourth Stage, Ghossein pays particular attention to southern Lebanon’s landscape as the setting, and the symbolic human-made objects that inhabit the space. The objects advocate national identity, and the screen, featuring the scenery, resembles the format of promotional materials for tourism. In the time-space of national ideology, history deteriorates into fiction, while fiction exposes the hidden layers of reality. Chico the magician hides away from the world, executing the art of disappearing magic he had performed numerous times on the stage. Ghossein also employs the magic of cinematic imagination in order to sharply hone his critical gaze upon the magical trickery of reality.

3. Aida Makoto (Japan)
3-Aida-Makoto_아이다-마코토

The video of a man calling himself Japan’s Prime Minister making a speech at an International Assembly, 2014, single channel video, color, sound, 26’07”
© AIDA Makoto, Courtesy of the Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo

The video features the Japanese Prime Minister giving a speech at an international assembly.
The speech urges countries to stay wary of the allures of globalism, and instead calls for a return to Sakoku – a most restrictive and reclusive international relations policy from the Edo period. The twenty six minute-long speech, by an anonymous figure claiming to the Prime Minister, exposes the innards of twisted nationalism operating within international politics, as well as the logic of globalization as it penetrates the individual desires nestled within the roots of such machinations. The faltering English of the “Prime Minister,” peppered with a Japanese accent, is indicative of Japan’s politics and sentiments; however, the power dynamics it refers to is also the political hegemony of the globe at present.

4-1 ~ 4-5. Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand)
4-1-Apichapong_아피찻퐁-위라세타쿤_Fireworks-sketch

4-1 Fireworks Sketch (Frog), 2014, single channel video, black and white, sound, 1’54”

4-2-Apichapong_아피찻퐁-위라세타쿤_For-Monkeys-Only

4-2 For Monkeys Only, 2014, single channel video, color, sound, 1’13”

4-3-Apichapong_아피찻퐁-위라세타쿤_One-Water

4-3 One Water, 2013, single channel video, color, silent, 1’11”

4-4-Apichapong_아피찻퐁-위라세타쿤_Dad

4-4 Father, 2014, single channel video, color, silent, 14’07”

4-5-Apichapong_아피찻퐁-위라세타쿤_Tone

4-5 Tone, 2014, single channel video, color, silent, 11’32”

Apichatpong Weerasetakul’s artistic productions are indicative of his intent for us to feel the energy of mysterious harmony and love spread throughout the world. The artist innovatively bridges Buddhist visions of the cosmos, Thailand’s folk traditions, and cutting-edge physics. To the artist, who has been continuously crossing the boundaries of genre and media including film, exhibition, and performance, the northeastern region of Thailand is the root of his cinematic imagination and creativity.

To the artist, the northeastern region of Thailand is the root of his cinematic imagination and creativity, as well as the path of self investigation. It is a place where forests, Mekong River, and the wounds of war are woven like cinematic montage. The depth of the nature and the violence of civilization offset each other, generating various fantasies and histories. It is a place where its dreams attract urban dweller’s spiritual journeys. For years, the artist produced countless video sketches and research profiles using a small camera he often carries around. Parts of the video introduced in this exhibition are taken from, or influenced by his feature films Tropical Malady (2004) and Uncle Boonmee who can Recall His Past Lives (2010).

5-1 ~ 5-2. Dinh Q. Lê (Vietnam)
5-1-Dinh-Q

5-1: Everything is a Re-Enactment, 2015, single channel video, color, sound, 26’09”

5-2-Dinh-Q

5-2: WTC in Four Moments, 2014, 4 channel video, color, sound, 6’00”

Dinh Q. Lê has been continuously exploring the theme of the Vietnam War. Both Dinh and Nakaura, the character in the video, have a shared interest even as they differ in perspective and method. They both belong to a group of reenactment enthusiasts who appear to be invested in costume play, but are in fact conducting detailed research on the War. Nakaura was part of a Vietnam War reenactment group, members of which were ready to study and perfectly reenact the daily routines of soldiers from the period, their coverage extending to uniforms, weapons, food, and march songs. Dinh and Nakaura present radically different perspectives toward a single historical event despite their intersecting interest. This video is a documentary that records the artist’s new learning of history as a multilayered narrative based on diverse perspectives.

WTC in Four Moments reuses photographs from the World Trade Center, which fell on September 11th, 2001. The four monitors, stationed to look like long strips, feature photographic captures of four different moments that record the unfortunate building – before the fall, during the collapse, the aftermath, and reconstruction.

Dinh used Adobe Photoshop to extend each of the images as long as 200 meters, and added slow movement in After Effect. The viewers are faced with the conundrum of being unable to identify the image, even as they watch it for a prolonged period of time. The uncertainty of such spectatorship may allude to historical reality, captured through the varying media of image in our time.

6. Harun Farocki (Germany)
6-Haroon-Parocki_하룬-파로키_In-Comparison

In Comparison, 2009, 16mm film, color, sound, 67’25”
© Harun Farocki

In Comparison ‘compares’