Daily objects turned upside down
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Anti-mosquito coils create funnel-shaped sculptures while enlarged egg-like objects are set on a slope. Wooden fences in the gallery make visitors wonder what is inside.
This is a part of the 13th Hermes Foundation Misulsang (art award) exhibition at Maison Hermes Dosan Park in southern Seoul.
The three candidates for the 13th Hermes Foundation Misulsang — Koo Dong-hee, Jackson Hong and Lee Mi-kyung — present unusual ways to look at everyday life. The works on exhibit blur the traditional concept of art and daily objects.
Koo, who works with multimedia including photo, video, sculpture and installation, experimented with the theme of “Helter Skelter.” The term refers to spiral slide fairground rides, and is also the title of a song by The Beatles. Notorious criminal Charles Manson also referred to the song title in his vision of a race war and it inspired Koo to create four artworks.
“Helter Skelter” is a 160-centimeter tall spiral-shaped object made from mosquito coils and a parasol. It looks like a weird parachute and Koo said she tried to resemble the shape of spiral slides. “Shelter” combines technologies with everyday things such as pen, buttons and cosmetics on a QR code printed on OHP film. When examined closely, photos of Manson with his believers are hidden in the code.
Such unfamiliar images diffuse the viewers’ senses and thoughts as helter skelter also means chaotic or lacking of order.
Hong worked with the concept of “Mass Production” by making familiar objects one-and-a-half times their original size.
Large eggs fall from a blue paper carton (“Proving Ground”) and a vacuum cleaner sucks in a mannequin instead of dust (“Shopping Mall”). A small angelic statue faces a black vacuum cleaner box instead of the visitors (“Untitled”).
Hong said he captured a slice of mass production, a legacy of commercialism in the 20th century, in his works. “I chose the bigger size because that is the most weird and unfamiliar size,” Hong said.
Lee’s “Fence” overturns viewers’ expectations totally. The 177-centimeter high fences, which are usually seen at construction sites, encase a square space of the gallery and visitors can step on the stool to look inside. However, they find nothing but an empty space.
Lee compares the idea of expecting something behind the fence to the significance of contemporary art. “Everyone expects to see something when they visit an exhibition, but sometimes it might be different from what they expected. Though futile, visitors who saw my work should say they saw nothing,” Lee said.
Begun in 2000, the Hermes Foundation Misulsang aims to support creative and capable Korean artists and the foundation provides expenses for three candidates to prepare an exhibition.
Artist and winner of 2001 award Kim Beom, University of California, Irvine studio art professor Min Yong-soon, Nam June Paik Art Center director Park Man-u, Busan Biennale 2012 artistic director Roger Buergel and independent curator Cristina Ricuperro are this year’s judging committee. The winner will be announced on Sept. 13.
The exhibit runs through Sept. 25 and admission is free. For more information, call (02) 544-7722.