MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2017:
November 30, 2017 ~ April 8, 2018
<MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2017: IM Heung-soon – Things that Do Us Part_Belief, Faith, Love, Betrayal, Hatred, Fear, Ghost>
This exhibition is an open project—a work in progress. Instead of understanding the museum as a place where we view and appreciate already completed works, the artist established the museum as an entirely new space, or in other words, a different dimensional space in which the living and the dead breathe together.
As visitors walk through this “different world,” they come to question what it is that link and disconnect our lives in the present day from the lives of Jeong Jeong-hwa, Kim Dong-il, Ko Gye-yeon and Lee Jeong-suk, the four grandmothers featured in IM Heung-soon’s works.
Gallery 5, the main exhibition space, is largely divided into three sections. The timeline on the large exterior wall of Gallery 5 is the framework of a film scheduled for completion in March 2018. This complex chronological table that interweaves individual histories of the four grandmothers, historical facts and natural phenomena views the Korean society from multiple angles.
Gallery 5-1 functions as the intermediary zone or bridge that we must cross to enter the world of the dead, and at the same time it is a space in which we console the spirits of those victimized in the tumults of history. In this gallery is a three-channel video titled <Things that Do Us Apart>, presented with a set of installations that include an entryway with one of the Four Buddhist Devas figure sitting over it, valley(mountain) mockup, a staircase, a boat, a watchtower, a room, an old tree, and a mobile photo studio. The film played in this gallery presents the lives of the four grandmothers mentioned above, part of which is narrated by Jeong Jeong-hwa’s granddaughter and reenacted by women from North Korea and South Korea. The artist signifies through this video that reconstructing the past functions as a way to examine the present and seek directions for the future. The film is also a clear reflection of IM’s belief that individual experiences and stories constitute history.
The connecting exhibition space is Gallery 5-2, designed to resemble a dress room. Clothing and knitting tools that once belonged to Kim Dong-il fill up this space as a collection, <Let’s Write a Poem of the Past I>. Ms. Kim passed away in Japan earlier this year. Gallery 5-3 presents another archival collection titled <Let’s Write a Poem of the Past II>, consisting of four grandmothers’ personal belongings. This space has been organized like a prop room, and visitors can have a respite in this gallery. The objects on view reflect the desires of four old women who hoped to heal their scars and overcome their traumatic experiences through their hobbies such as fishing, embroidery, reading and knitting. At the same time, the collection also helps us to try and understand that they may have deeply wished to live ordinary lives like others.
<Reincarnation> is a two-channel video that IM Heung-soon presented to the public in 2015. The screens are installed on opposite walls of the gallery space to face one another. One screen plays a film featuring mothers of those killed in the Iran-Iraq War and young women reenacting their pain, while the facing screen shows women victimized by the Vietnam War. This work was inspired by the life of Lee Jeong-suk, who witnessed the Korean War in her childhood, the Vietnam War in her youth, and even the Iran-Iraq War as a result of her settlement in Iran after she wedded her Iranian husband. Each war took place at different locations in different eras in history. Yet, by opening up the scars of war that trampled the lives of many, IM attempts to reorient conventional perspectives that simply dichotomize war into categories such as winners and losers or perpetrators and victims.
‘Media Lab’ and ‘Seoul Box’
‘Media Lab’ is a space in which the audience can take a close look at the preparation stages of IM’s filmmaking. From research material to interview recordings and artist’s notes, the archival collection here shows how this exhibition was planned and organized. Moreover, it also encourages viewers to predict how the show will end, and thereby fosters a deeper understanding of the exhibition. There is one last piece of work that must not be missed. It is <A country saved by grandma>, placed at the right-hand corner of the ‘Seoul Box’ wall painted in red. This work is a slide projection of photos and images that show the everyday lives of our grandmothers. ■ with ARTINPOST