Artists nav­i­gate cap­i­tal­ism of ocean

The Korea Times - - CULTURE - By Kwon Mee-yoo

The sea is part of na­ture, but nowa­days the ocean is dom­i­nated by cap­i­tal­is­tic ex­ploita­tion. It be­came an ob­ject of col­o­niza­tion and di­vided by bor­der-mak­ing as a side ef­fect of mod­ern­iza­tion

“Grid­ded Cur­rents,” an ex­hi­bi­tion held at Kukje Gallery in down­town Seoul, ap­proaches the sea seen through a cap­i­tal­is­tic per­spec­tive in a crit­i­cal way. “The ex­hi­bi­tion pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to see how we di­vide and deal with the sea, con­sumed by mod­ernist ways of think­ing,” in­de­pen­dent cu­ra­tor Kim Hyun-jin who or­ga­nized the ex­hi­bi­tion said.

The ex­hi­bi­tion en­com­passes works of four artists from var­i­ous back­grounds — Nina Canell, Kim A-young, Runo Lago­marsino and Charles Lim Yi Yong. The videos, paint­ings and in­stal­la­tions re­veal colo­nial his­tory and na­tion­al­ism be­hind na­ture.

Swedish artist Lago­marsino’s works present poetic im­agery of the sea, but they rather re­flect the irony deeply rooted in Euro­cen­trism.

He printed a 16th cen­tury ship fight­ing the sea mon­ster Kraken on a large cur­tain, ti­tled “Mare Nostrum Mare Mostrum” (Our Sea Our Mon­ster). “Europe is Im­pos­si­ble to De­fend” bor­rows an il­lus­tra­tion from the fa­mous story of the Egg of Colum­bus.

“It rep­re­sents the his­tor­i­cal legacy of colo­nial times in Latin Amer­ica,” he said.

Works on the sec­ond floor re­flect more phys­i­cal­ity. “Sea Gram­mar” is a slide pro­jec­tion of some 80 im­ages of the Mediter­ranean Sea, punc­tured with holes by the artist. The num­ber of holes in­crease as the pro­jec­tion pro­gresses, hid­ing the orig­i­nal seascape. Lago­marsino raises the ques­tion of refugees and im­mi­gra­tion as a large pop­u­la­tion of refugees from Africa and the Mid­dle East are des­per­ate to cross the Mediter­ranean.

Lim is from Sin­ga­pore and has a unique back­ground of be­ing a for­mer Olympian as a sailor. Be­ing born in a city sur­rounded by wa­ter and sail­ing a yacht pro­fes­sion­ally, the sea was the liv­ing foun­da­tion for Lim.

His work “SEA STATE” lit­er­ally di­vides the sea by grid and presents how the Sin­ga­pore­ans per­ceive the sea as a wall, not as an open space.

“The sea was present in ev­ery­one’s lives, but it is go­ing out of our mind. I wanted to bring this back,” Lim said.

Cour­tesy of Kukje Gallery

In­stal­la­tion view of “Grid­ded Cur­rents” cu­rated by Kim Hyun-jin at Kukje Gallery in cen­tral Seoul

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