Yiso Bahc: Something for Nothing
April 19 – June 1, 2014
2F Art Sonje Center
Yiso Bahc: Something for Nothing
Something for Nothing is the second solo exhibition of Yiso Bahc at Art Sonje Center, followingLines of Flight in 2011. The title of the exhibition comes from the name of one of the artist’s works. It consists of two large rubber basins placed at opposite ends of a long wooden bench. One of the basins contains cement, heaped high above the brim, and the other is empty. This work itself is not included in the current exhibition, because it has been lost. Nevertheless, it is a good example of Bahc’s ruminations about the “something” he was pursuing in art, about making works of art and the desire to make them, and about the emptiness of pursuing and making art. In an artist’s note, Bahc states that everything that humans make seems to ultimately turn into “a heap of waste.” He also remarks that he makes art as a means of “self-therapeutic escape from voidness of life.” For him, the act of artmaking is “to maneuver in reverse mode into the vast and limitless field of ‘gaps’ among those already existing categories and meanings.” (Artist statement by Yiso Bahc in October, 2000)
Lines of Flight-another posthumous exhibition of Yiso Bahc’s work, held at Art Sonje Center in 2011-was an exhibition that focused on the artist’s drawings. It featured sketches and plans he drew before implementing an idea or installation. The current exhibition focuses on introducing installation works that have not been shown in Korea. Along with the installation works, the show will also include examples of Bahc’s paintings, sculptures, and video works. It will show, among others, works from the 1980s and 1990s, when the artist worked under the pseudonym Bahc Mo; works he created while participating in the artist-in-residence program at Artpace in San Antonio, Texas; and one of the two works he submitted for the Korean Pavilion at the 2003 Venice Biennale. Also included in the exhibition are works from major group shows Bahc participated in as well as works from the solo exhibition at Atelier Hermes on the occasion of winning the Hermes Foundation Missulsang (art prize) in 2002.
As an Escape (1998) is an installation work that visitors will find at the start of the exhibition. It is a narrow corridor created with a plastic sheet along one side of the gallery wall. The work invites visitors to experience an unfamiliar space. This work was exhibited in 1998 at Art Sonje Museum in Gyeongju in a group exhibition entitled Defrost. The current installation replicates the Gyeongju exhibition in terms of the installation specifications.
Untitled (The Sky of San Antonio) (2000) shows video projections of the sky with live-feed from the cameras installed on the rooftop of the museum. The real-time images of the sky are projected onto the cut-out wall laid on the floor. Associates of Artpace, who assisted the original installation in 2000, were consulted in recreating the piece in Seoul.
Themes of stars and light often appear in Bahc’s work. A number of works highlighting this aspect of his practice are featured in this exhibition. They include Big Dipper in Eight Stars(1997-1999), Eight Direction Beauty (2002), Five Empty Worlds (2002), and Your Bright Future(2002).
Your Bright Future (2002) consists of ten powered industrial light fixtures hoisted on a wooden structure; all of the lights are directed towards one spot on the gallery’s white wall from different positions, maximizing the illumination of the lit area. This work was restored and installed by the artist’s colleagues-fellow artists who also showed at the 2009 group show, Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The current exhibition follows the installation specifications of the LACMA exhibition.
Perhaps what remains in the aftermath of his death is, like the title of the exhibition, something for nothing. The artist seems to have left us his “something”s for us to trace the “gap” that he had traveled and further reflect.
The opening of the exhibition will coincide with the publication of a catalogue of drawings, which has been in preparation since the exhibition Lines of Flight in 2011. The catalogue is a vivid exploration of Bahc’s work process and how he went about developing ideas and creating installation works. It is expected that the book will serve as a resource for researchers and fellow artists-those who knew him closely, as well as those who never met him in person.
Also in May, an anthology of Bahc’s writings and writings on his work is scheduled to be published in collaboration with the publication company, Hyunsil Culture Studies. This collection will help readers follow the cognitive trajectory of the artist who, in the 1990s, spearheaded the transformation of the practice of contemporary art in Korea. Also in the month of May, in conjunction with the publication of the anthology, Art Sonje Center will host a weekly program of dialogue with Ihnbum Lee, Park Chan-kyong, Seoyoung Chung, Young Chul Lee, and other curators and artists who have personal memories of Bahc. They will share with the audience his project of “cohabitation” with colleagues and friends through everyday encounters.