Looking Beyond Disaster for Clues to Contemporary Life

by AryanArtnews
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Seoul — Jung Jun-ho and Mun Kyung-won embody a slightly opposite approach in an era when artists can sell dizzying amounts of paintings and sculptures.

“I don’t want to make only artwork,” Moon said in an interview at a studio designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito in Nishimura, Seoul. “We are trying to listen to other voices to rethink our position.”

Over the last decade, Moon and Jeon, or the well-known Moon and Jeon, have established a variety of artistic partnerships, including frequent collaborations with architects, fashion designers, actors, scientists, and more. rice field.

Dreamy, meticulously crafted short videos are their trademark, sometimes creating individual objects, but their efforts are in the form of discussion series, books, and designs. .. With 52 people, both became stars of the international art circuit and represented their home country of Korea at the 2015 Venice Biennale.

Their latest show, held at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa in May, includes a video installation and an ongoing urban regeneration project in the nearby seaside village of Kanazawa. The project includes the redesign of dilapidated walls by architect Yuji Nakae to protect the area from wind, sand and marine debris. The new video follows a man looking for a survivor on a lifeboat in the post-apocalyptic virtual reality world.

Such futuristic post-disaster settings have become a recurring concern for this pair. This is a way to deal with modern problems from an oblique angle. “Moon and I don’t like sending messages to the audience,” Chung said. “We want to give the key-“

“—Or a clue to our idea,” Moon said.

William Morris’s 1890 novel “News Out of Nowhere” has served as an inspiration and title for their work. In Morris’s universe, men fall asleep and wake up in socialist utopia more than a century later. Tsuki-san and Chung-san’s settings tend to be much darker. Civilization has collapsed. Humans are trying to move forward.

The highlight of the recent show at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) was a two-screen video born from a study of Daesung Free Village, located in the demilitarized zone and protected by UN forces. Approximately 200 residents receive a special tax deduction, but are subject to a curfew and are closely monitored. (The pair couldn’t get permission to shoot there.)

On one screen, a local man wanders through the woods, creating a catalog of plants and sending samples through a balloon into the air. Curiously, its contents are displayed on the second screen of a sealed high-tech chamber inhabited by a lonely man. He is under video surveillance and is fed by a pouch delivered by a computerized home. He examined the specimen, secretly sowed it, put on a mask and decided to go out.

This work, which was planned before the pandemic, is receiving a new response. “Freedom Village itself is introducing us now,” said Juwon Park, the MMCA curator who hosted the show. “We are completely isolated. We wear masks every day, so we are physically and mentally isolated.”

Decades ago, Daesung’s photographs were subtly changed by the artist, obscuring people’s identities and hanging near the video. Park said many of the young people who visited were “confused about whether this village was genuine.” The 70-year alienation is the result of the Korean War, but “these kinds of stories are all over the world,” she said, with Kabul, Hong Kong, Taiwan, everywhere crossing borders and restricted movement. Similar to being.

The Freedom Village video will be screened in Kanazawa in the duo’s first movie, Elfin Delmundo (2012). This movie also uses a double structure that spans time. On one screen, a man in a devastated studio is working on an unmanageable sculpture. Second, a maliciously commercialized future woman visits the room, studies his material (now an artifact), and becomes obsessed with it.

Carolyn Christoph Bakargiev, director of the Castello di Rivoli Museum in Turin, Italy, said, “Philosophy and social reflection on the future, or the future as the past.” Her 2012 edition of the important Documenta exhibition in Kassel, Germany.

They may take the work as a parable for their lasting belief in making experimental art. Mr. Chung said he is aiming to ask, “What is the meaning of contemporary art?” They show that it can be a forum for uniting heterogeneous creativity.

At the 2013 Chicago show by Moon and John, the Dutch architectural firm MVRDV provided a habitable, biodegradable “foam” rendering for the artist’s ectopic scenario. .. At the 2015 Zurich show, the two worked with the Swiss design group Urban-Think Tank to design a mobile seat, the Mobile Agora, for discussion among people from different disciplines. ..

Because of the pandemic, “we need their philosophy as an artist to rethink the social role of art,” Koichi Nakata, a senior curator at the Kanazawa Museum of Art, said in an email.

Their focus on such a central issue dates back to 2007, their first meeting by plane every other year to show their work. Intense debate eventually led to their partnership, but they both continue to make solo works. “We talked a lot about how to survive as an artist in the art market,” Moon said.

Surviving as an artist today, making ambitious films, means raising money from sources such as museums, foundations, and businesses. “I can’t imagine how many presentations we will give to the company,” Chung said.

Produced by Korean film industry veteran Oh Jung Wan, major galleries in Seoul and Tokyo sell works including limited edition videos. Still, it’s not always an easy process.

“We are dreamers,” Chung emphasized at one point. “We are dreamers.” After a short pause, Moon laughed with satisfaction.

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