6th May- 30th June
Opening hours: Monday- Saturday 10am- 7pm, closed Sundays and National Holidays
Admission: 3,000 won (This gets you into the Coreana Cosmetics Museum upstairs too)
The past 100 years or so have been an exciting time in the art world, which saw artists tirelessly searching for ways to rebel from, or pay homage to, what had come before them. A constant experimentation with new mediums slotted in with these searches, and it was in the 70′s that both body and performance art really took off. Violent and visceral performances of, for example, the Vienna Actionists, were shocking; perfect for communicating immediate and urgent, often political messages. I love how the body as a medium has far more attention grabbing potential due to a human narcissism, curiosity and voyeurism. In the exhibition Artist’s Body at space*c, they treat anyone willing to part with 3,000 won to an inspiring and exciting exhibition, which includes some of the art world’s body-as-a-medium heavyweights.
Jia Chung’s contribution, ‘Fixation Box,’ (2007) consists of a small range of objects including glass vases, a mirror, rope and a hair piece, displayed in a case upon some black velvet. They are encrusted with salt crystals which makes them look as if they’ve been rescued from a watery grave. Chung used her own urine to create this effect, which is very beautiful actually. Urine in a gallery? Old hat. But in this context; used to create beautiful and delicate objects which are quite feminine in nature, not used in any machismo way… I like it.
Nikki S. Lee and Markus Hansen use their own bodies as vehicles for experience and identifying with others. Lee has admirably transformed herself from a trashy hip-hop ho, to punk, to convincing senior, to Hispanic, in a range of photos. Far from being carefully constructed Cindy Shermans, they show her living as part of certain stereotypical groups. Hansen took a range of head shots of various subjects and magically managed to photograph himself looking eerily similar to the originals. Same lighting, same slight head tilts, same expressions, same eyes… very cool and kind of creepy!
Stelarc provides an aspect gruesome enough to make you flinch, using his body to conduct science experiments on, for example, implanting an ear into his arm in ‘Ear Scaffold: Ear on Arm,’ (2006). If you’re interested, the name of the surgeons is provided at the end of the short film documentation!
Julie Jaffrennou uses her body to confront feminist issues, and appears in ‘Bride III,’ (2006) sat upon an extremely high chair, towering over gallery visitors. Her naked torso is tightly bound in wire, whilst water drips down on her, slowly removing her already shredded white ‘wedding’ skirt in a particulary Carrie-esque fashion. She confronts the sadistic voyeurist in us all as she sits in a glass case, wearing an all over plastic body suit which she struggles in and manages to rip holes in, then sew back up in ‘Carnation I,’ (2006).
One of my favourite performance pieces, Janine Antoni’s ‘Loving Care,’ (1996), is shown. She uses her hair as a paintbrush to slather an entire galley floor in hair dye, literally flipping the ‘bird’ toward abstract expressionism.
‘The Grandmother of Performance Art,’ Marina Abramovic obviously could not be missed out of this show. In ‘Nude with Skeleton,’ (2005), she lies naked under a skeleton which has been placed face up on top of her. She tenderly holds it’s hands and forces us to confront our own mortality.
A show entitled ‘Artist’s Body,’ would surely never fail to excite, amuse and disgust in my opinion. This one certainly doesn’t. Each piece uses the human body as medium to explore different themes such as identity, taboo, femininity, spiritualism, voyeurism and the possibilities and limits of our own bodies. Each artist has finely tuned their works to the message they are attempting to convey. These messages are made all the more immediate to us as consumers, considering we can relate instantly with the human body more so than a painted canvas, for example. I was certainly inspired!