Dust Clay Stone
October 30 – December 20, 2020
3F Art Sonje Center
Dust Clay Stone
Dust Clay Stone focuses on works that represent the complex issues of identity faced by individuals experiencing situations of migration, as well as the perceptions that are formed or lost in the course of such experiences. The four artists, Pia Arke, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Bouchra Khalili and Alexander Ugay, whose works appear in the exhibition either experienced migration due to personal reasons or historical circumstance or are still living in a situation of it. While each of them has diverse cultural background through the experience of having been born in different regions of the globe and migrated to different continents or countries, the artists reveal their interests in the complex identity, the individual and collective memories, post-colonialism and allyship in their works. The works are also inter-connected in their methods of creating works such as their deep exploration of the structure of languages, the representation of images, approaches to the archival references, etc.
Pia Arke (1958–2007) was born in the Danish autonomous territory of Greenland and lived in Copenhagen. She is considered one of the most important Nordic artists who have focused on post-colonial issues, and this exhibition marks the first time her work has been shown in Korea. Born to an Inuit mother and Danish father, Arke produced numerous works of video, photography, and writing as she re-examined the history since Denmark’s occupation of Greenland and the traces left by colonial researchers. This exhibition features some of her video work, along with various photographs of her hometown landscape taken with a pinhole camera she made and her text titled Ethno-Esthetics.
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951–1982) was born in Busan and migrated to the US at the age of 12. She studied literature and art in her undergraduate and graduate studies, leaving behind beautiful works of writing, videos, performances, and drawings over the course of her short life. Cha’s work deals with issues of identity and migration, exile and alienation; in particular, she establishes a “third language” as she combines textual and visual language with the complex perceptions existing between her mother tongue and the language of her adopted home. Her best-known work, the 1982 book DICTEE, blends together the lives of nine women through combinations of past and present, history and fiction, images and language and is considered a key text in both migrant and feminist literature. This exhibition features some of her major video works that illustrate the deconstruction and new creation of language.
A third-generation Goryeoin (Korean diaspora who moved or were forced to move to the former Soviet Republics in Central Asia) born in Kazakhstan, Alexander Ugay (b. 1978) makes photography and video that combine the use of digital equipment with 8mm and 16mm cameras made during the Soviet era. His work reveals memories and nostalgia as it explores interactions among history, the present situation, and future prospects. For this exhibition, he uses the disappearing medium of VHS to capture the words from the disappearing language of “Goryeomal” – a dialect of Korean spoken mainly among ethnic Koreans in Central Asia. Currently based in Korea, the artist also presents a new work commissioned that documents the physical movements of Goryeoin and Russian migrant workers in Korea. Ingrained through daily labor, their repeated movements show a complex mixture of emotions, including monotony, meditativeness, and community anxieties.
Born in Casablanca, Bouchra Khalili (b. 1975) currently lives and works between Berlin and Oslo. She is renowned for works of photography and video that address the realities and historical circumstances of political minorities, and the issue of geographical migration in particular. Her work presents issues of language and industry through storytelling situated at the intersections of the history and personal narrative. For this exhibition, she presents two works of video and text focusing on the French playwright Jean Genet. They respectively concern Genet’s 1970 visit to the US at the invitation of the Black Panther Party and his solidarity with its members, as well as the last book and sentence written by the writer, who also worked as a typographer.
Through these artists’ work – especially in the photography and video mediums – the exhibition examines how language operates as an indicator revealing perceptions that are created and lost through the experience of migration.
About the Artists
Pia Arke (b.1958, d.2007)
Pia Arke lived and worked in Copenhagen. Through different artistic media as photography, collage, video, performance, installation and writing, Arke examined the places where she lived as a child and the historical colonial relationship between Denmark and Greenland. Arke’s work has recently been shown by museums including Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art and the National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen; Louisiana, Copenhagen; Brandts – Museum of Art and Visual Culture, Odense; Moderna Museet Stockholm and Malmö; and Kunsthall Trondheim, Norway.
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (b.1951, d.1982)
Korean-born artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha created a rich body of conceptual art that explored displacement and loss. Her works included artists’ books, mail art, performance, audio, video, film, and installation. Although grounded in French psychoanalytic film theory, her art is also informed by far-ranging cultural and symbolic references, from shamanism to Confucianism and Catholicism. Her work has been shown at the Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA; Artists Space, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Bronx Museum of Art, New York among other venues.
Bouchra Khalili (b.1975)
Bouchra Khalili lives and works in Berlin. Encompassing film, video, installation, photography, printmaking, and publishing, Khalili’s practice explores imperial and colonial continuums as epitomized by contemporary forced illegal migrations and the politics of memory of anti-colonial struggles and international solidarity. Khalili’s work has been shown at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2019), Museum Folkwang, Essen (2018), Jeu de Paume, Paris (2018), Secession, Vienna (2018), Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus (2017). She was a nominee of the Guggenheim’s Hugo Boss Prize (2018) and the Artes Mundi Prize (2018).
Alexander Ugay (b.1978)
Photo and video artist, Alexander Ugay, lives and works in Almaty and Seoul. He reveals the issues of memory and nostalgia in his works, exploring the interaction of history with the current reality and the future. Notable recent exhibitions include at Suwon I’Park Museum of Art in Suwon (2018), Lunds konsthall in Lund (2018), Galeria Labirynt in Lublin (2017), Kyiv Biennale (2017), 6th Moscow Biennale (2015), and Busan Biennale (2014).