Gimhongsok: Ordinary Strangers
April 9 – May 1, 2011
2F Art Sonje Center
Gimhongsok: Ordinary Strangers
※ Performances in the exhibition and the lectures are in Korean only.
Gimhongsok rearranges various social, political and cultural phenomena through translation and appropriation in his works, starting from text-based works that rely on ambiguity to address the boundary between reality and fiction. The artist has been working with a variety of mediums including sculpture, installation, video, painting, drawing and performance. Alongside incorporating various mediums, he also employs a collaborative system to create his works as a form of performative art. In this solo exhibition, Gimhongsok presents participatory performances where the performers lure the audience into engaging with the work. The works create a situation where there are no artistic objects in the exhibition space and the audience becomes the protagonist.
People Objective–Of Ordinary Art (2011) is a work where text written by the artist is delivered to the audience through language spoken by performers. In this work, Gimhongsok selects five words – chair, stone, water, people and concept – and tries to transform these words into art. The process of transforming words into art in this work started from the writing carried out to produce five essays: “Chair – A Short Study on Tools”, “Stone – A Short Study on Pure Material”, “Water – A Short Study on Materials That Cannot Be Configurated”, “People – A Short Study on Ethical Attitude” and “Concept – A Short Study on Expression”. Each performer is sent these five writings. The artist then talks with the performers about the writings. During the exhibition, the performers explain each text to the audience, not as a perfect reproduction but as a flexible explanation built upon each performer’s understanding of the texts. Gimhongsok explains that the conversation between the audience and the performers is the most important stage in his work for this exhibition. The works he presents are completed at the point of conversation. After that point, they are transformed into new works and narratives that no longer allow the artist’s intervention.
Gimhongsok’s performance works have always involved the theme of ‘difference and ethics’. In People Objective, he highlights the role of performers at its limit and the ethical politics of an artist. In this set of participatory performances, Gimhongsok intentionally reduces the authority of the artist to suggest that it is possible to complete the understanding and interpretation of the piece through the performers’ conversations with the audience. The language heard in the exhibition venue plays only a small role in this process; the meeting between the performers and audience becomes the main element.
“The performers in this work come to realize that they have to respond to the reactions of the audience, rather than delivering their messages in one direction. This kind of impromptu conversation completely alienates the authentic meaning of the original and generates a new text. Here we cannot see any fixed ending. Rather, we discover a story structure that continues itself. Successive connections between artist-performer-audience, are reproductions of a politics also known as a meeting.” -Gimhongsok
The performers take their places within the Art Sonje Center’s exhibition space without any particular staging. When the audience then listens to the story created by the artist, through another person’s mouth, it is as if they are unexpectedly encountering storytellers. Similar to a theatrical play, Gimhongsok’s piece offers its audience the opportunity to reflect on the relationship and modes of communication between performers delivering an artist’s story and the audience listening to their interpretations. The audience can freely express their opinions or ask the performers questions. Through this process, new stories are generated each time. Unlike the indirect communication conveyed through art objects in a conventional setting, the Art Sonje Center proposes that its audience experience intimate and direct communication based on active participation.
Along with People Objective, Art Sonje Center is hosting a series of four lectures. Titled “Language Specific”, the lecture project features four guest speakers invited by Gimhongsok. Iroo Joo (Plannig Manager, Munji Cultural Institute Saii), Kiwan Sung (Lecturer, Kaywon School of Art And Design), Boseon Shim (Assistant Professor, Kyung Hee Cyber University) and Taehan Lee (media artist) are the four guest speakers who will talk about their current and future projects to enrich the exhibition venue made of ‘stories’. Iroo Joo will give lectures on the issue of perspective in science through heliocentric and geocentric models of the universe as well as the theory of evolution and its interpretation. Kiwan Sung will take ‘module’ as the subject of his lecture, while Boseon Shim and Taehan Lee will introduce Text Resolution (2009), a collaborative project they have worked on with six poets.
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication titled Performance, an Ethical Politics. The publication features the artist’s statements on three projects in the exhibition (People Objective, Public Blank and Assimilated Differences) the respective scripts and essays, an interview with the artist and articles written by the guest speakers of “Language Specific”, along with a supplementary essay by Iris Moon, titled “Performative Art”.