CU Exhibit Review- Bruce kenyon

  Bruce Kenyon

Contemporary Art

Exhibit Review

“Keeping It Real: Korean Artists In the Age of Multimedia Representation”

      This exhibit, located at the CU Art Museum, is comprised of various Korean artist’s work. As soon as you enter the museum, even before you get in the official gallery, there is a huge installation on the wall. This piece is called “ Untying Space at the CU Art Museum,” and is by Sun K. Kwak. Her installation is hundreds of pieces of black masking tape and vinyl strips that are stuck on the wall and go from the entrance of the museum up into the corner of the entrance room, and from there go into the exhibit itself and carry on for another twenty feet on a curved wall inside the gallery. Inside the gallery there was a part of this installation that was dark blue, it took me a few times of being in the gallery to notice that.

      I really liked this piece, it looks like some flowing fluid and really gives one a sense of motion. The title “Untying Space” I think is really fitting as starts the art outside of the gallery, and leads the viewers eye from the big external room into the gallery. I actually had the chance to see Sun K. putting up this fluid intrinsic piece. It was a meticulous process that looks like it is going to be hard to undue. Sun K. explains how the idea of using black masking tape seemed to pop into her head. She then purchased some and put it up in the hallway to her apartment. When she began to tear some if it down, the result was this fluid-like composition that gave her great pleasure to create. I could really sense from her work that the process of creating it was a lot of fun. The process of sticking up tape and tearing parts of it down over and over again seems almost like a meditation exercise.
Once I stepped inside the gallery the first thing I noticed was this huge panther roaring at me in the center of the room. I could tell from a far that it was made up of hundreds of black strips, just like Kwak’s wall installation was. When I got closer to it I noticed texture that I recognized to be of tires. Once I noticed that it was made up of hundreds of strips of tires my first reaction was to think, where did they get these tires, and why did they use this plastic material that takes hundreds of thousands of years to break down?

Yong-Ho Ji is the creator of this piece. He used different types of recycled of tires to create these hybrid monsters. Most of them are real and fierce animals like a shark or this panther in our museum, but sometimes he makes more abstract animals or figures that are just as if not more menacing. His work can be described as “prophetic, poetic and lucid.” This jaguar was created with this material to make a statement about the dangers of cultures’ obsession with science, technology, and industrialization. I appreciate the irony in creating a beautiful jaguar out of plastic tires and I respect that these are recycled tires. In the article from Yong-Ho’s official website the president of an art school in Korea notes that these strips of tires are reminiscent of muscles on animals. These tires not only look like muscles, but also are an “extension of human leg muscles,” in that they are a means of transportation. I like this analogy because it brings to mind moving towards or away from something. Yong-Ho believes that our relationship to nature is one of abuse, and these creations are meant to be warnings in symbolizing the state of nature we accept as normal.  In this case we need to acknowledge the direction we are moving as a species on this earth, and realize that it is a dangerous one.

From here I noticed three television screens on the wall. These pieces were by Kiwoun Shin. The first two shared the title of “Reality Test,” and were inspired from the personal experience he has with loosing friends in car accidents. The first screen was in 3-D format, and required activating these glasses that were hanging next to it. There was classical music playing which gave a sense of tranquility and calm. I happened to watch the movie before I read the description, and so my initial response was one of pure entertainment. There was a women sitting at a table with a glass of wine when, in slow motion, a toy car flew from the right side of the screen into and through the glass into the left side of the screen. Glass shards went everywhere and the look on the women’s face was one of honest surprise. I thought that the fact that this participant looked honestly surprised was interesting, as she most likely knew what she was getting into. There were a few other people who took the place of these women, and new items were smashed with new toys. The second screen was the same thing, only different participants and different objects being thrown at the glass. The second screen was not in 3-D. This was probably either due to general preference, or maybe available resources.

When questioned about this piece Kiwoun Shin says he wants the viewer to have to think about what is ‘real’ and what is ‘truth.’  He wants us to question the difference between a real car crash and a car crash using toys. The difference between objects and humans becomes a sobering mental exercise when confronted with the dangers of reality.

The third screen was at titled “Approach the Truth — Astro Boy,” and displayed an Astro boy figurine, being sanded up, that is he was sanded down to fine sawdust, but the video that capture this was going in reverse, so that it looked like he was being created by the sanding machine, instead of being destroyed. Here they were playing Randy Newmans “It’s a wonderful world,” on repeat. My initial reaction to this was that this must be a statement on the material obsession that can be found in society. Then I started to think deeper, and wondered if this had anything to do with childhood. As it turns out this piece was meant to convey “both contempt and respect towards the material and sensorial world.”

Overall I really enjoy this exhibit. I found the reoccurring theme of questioning reality, society, and what we value to be extremely relevant and elegantly portrayed.  South Korea is a first world country that is dealing with many issues related to globalization and industrialization that we find in America. The fact that these artists from across the globe can be experiencing some of the same reactions and emotions to the state of society and the direction its heading that I and other artists/thinkers are feeling, is pretty remarkable.










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