Inhwan Oh’s My Own Blind Spots couples video surveillance with a meditation on the order of seeing and being seen to reveal processes of social and cultural subversion synced across two galleries: Commonwealth and Council and Baik Art.
How do we disavow social norms to navigate difference? How do we feel out the margins of visibility and find parallel spaces for othered communities to exist and thrive? Oh calls this the cultural blind spot—a psychic space that sustains and nurtures difference while allowing the individual to perform in mainstream society. A kind of overlay one may access through a gap in the surveilling view, the transition marked by a switch in perspective, the fruition of queer spaces—transient but always prevalent, organised by word-of-mouth—in cities where homosexuality is illicit.
In Reciprocal Viewing (2017), Oh marks off the blind spots of CCTV cameras installed in both spaces with pink tape, playfully delineating the boundary between what appears and what is present. This has the effect of turning the panopticon on its head, converting a system of surveillance and control into a diagram for sneaking past the eye in the sky. A viewing apparatus has design limits; it can only register and track its fisheye view. Everything else falls beyond its scope. Reciprocal Viewing asserts the abundance of unseen territory, redirecting our perspective to what may be right in front of us, just out of sight.
Oh’s 2015 video My Blind Spot—The Interview collects personal anecdotes from young South Korean men following their mandatory military service. They describe secret hideouts where they could masturbate or spend time alone, as well as the search for such places. On My Way to Blind Spots (2019)—a component work of Looking Out for Blind Spots—revisits these soldiers’ accounts, transposing their spatial pathways into new locations navigated by Oh—a blinded search with determined instigation.
This exhibition was made possible with support from the Korea Artist Prize Promotion Fund.
Inhwan Oh’s (b. 1964, Seoul, South Korea; lives and works in Seoul, South Korea) conceptual artwork and participatory projects draw on the contexts of particular spaces and times, based on his interest in sociocultural issues. Utilizing his own experiences as a gay man living in Korea, his process-driven work translates and deconstructs the relationship between individual identity and collectivity within patriarchal societies, as well as the cultural codes shaped therein. Selected solo exhibitions have been held at Space Willing N Dealing, Seoul (2018); Hoard Art, Seoul (2017); and Artsonje Center, Seoul (2009). Group exhibitions were held at the Navy Officer’s Club at the Arsenale, Venice, Italy (2019); Daegu Art Factory (2019); the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon (2018); the Seoul Museum of Art (2017); Kyoto Art Center & Nijo Castle (2017); and Artsonje Center, Seoul (2014). Oh received the Korea Artist Prize in 2015.
Press release courtesy Baik Art.