For this year's group event we have invited the curator team of Jari-Juhani Lager (FI/DE) and Sunhee Choi (KR) to create for us an exhibition with a 'family' of South Korean artists who have their bases in South Korea, Europe and America. Lager and Choi have for many years dedicated themselves to developing the South Korean art market. The artists' shared ethnicity does not necessarily mean that the styles and techniques of their art have much in common; while abroad, however, they have done as many 'expats' have done before them–sought out compatriots with whom they might share and exchange experiences in social and professional networks. One common factor in their lives has been the period in which they have grown up; as the curators point out, many of them are the sons and daughters of the post-Korean War generation and they have witnessed the rapidly evolving sociopolitical and cultural context of South Korean society from the 1970s until today. To quote from the curators' own text: 'They are the generation who grew up in the tumult and dynamic conditions of modernisation, and are the direct beneficiaries of cultural advances made possible by the advent of new technology. If they have a particular understanding of the depression of the Korean War and the nation's current sociopolitical situation as its direct result, they also grew up with a sense of general euphoria and optimism in view of later developments in every aspect of society.'
All the artists represented in this exhibition are active on the South Korean contemporary art scene in various parts of the world. The artworks presented are as multi-faceted as the modern South Korean society with all of its internal conflicts–a society where the values of collectivism and individualism are tightly intertwined. The title Please Return to Busan Port is the same as one given to a video work by Kim Ayoung. For her part, Kim Ayoung borrowed it from the title of a song that every South Korean would recognise, due to its nationwide popularity. In her video the artist traces back in time, casting new light on specific events in history and redefining Korea's fast economic rise. By focusing on the microscopic events and lives of the people, the artist attempts to reframe an established historical narrative seen through the 'real' lives that have been lead. She takes her role as storyteller seriously, and with her title she embraces the notion of an artwork as a journey homewards. The idea of 'returning home' serves as a metaphor for most of the South Korean artists in this exhibition, for they have brought to their art the fruits of long periods in 'exile' and their experience of western culture. Now their journey is perhaps returning them to their point of departure.
Anh Sihyung (1967/KR), Bek Hyunjin (1972/KR), Choi Soyoung (1980/KR), Choi Xooang (1975/KR), Choi Yoonsuk (1981/KR), Ji Yeo (1985/KR), Kim Ayoung (1979/KR), Kim Younghun (1964/KR), Kwon Jukhee (1981/KR), Kwon Soonhak (1979/KR), Lee Byungchan (1987/KR), Lee Hyungkoo (1969/KR), Lee Leenam (1969/KR), Lee Seahyun (1967/KR), Lee Yongbaek (1966/KR), Na Hyun (1970/KR), Oh Heinkuhn (1963/KR), Parada-Kim Helena (1982/KR), Shin Meekyung (1967/KR), Stella Sujin (1983/KR), Won Boemsik (1972/KR) og Yu Jinyoung (1977/KR).
Press release courtesy Choi&Lager Gallery.