21st August- 24th October
Opening hours: Tuesday- Sunday 10am- 6pm, closed Monday and Chuseok (Tue 21st- Thurs 23rd September inclusive)
Admission: Adults 3,000 won, students and children 2,000 won, under 3′s and over 65′s free
Exhibition tours: Tuesday- Sunday 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm
After gaining international recognition through shows in contemporary art hot spots such as Berlin and LA, and perhaps most significantly at the Korean Pavilion in the 2009 Venice Biennale, the time is ripe for the 1st solo exhibition of Haegue Yang in her homeland. Haegue Yang currently lives and works between Seoul and Berlin, and this theme of existing between two places very much informs the art work which she produces. Voice over Three, the current exhibition at Artsonje Centre, is your chance to see what all the hype around Haegue Yang is about.
Numerous small scale works inhabit the second floor, whilst a large scale piece de resistance takes up all of the third floor gallery; all executed in varying degrees of non traditional mediums. There are video works, collages, photographs, boxes, and works made up of mundane everyday objects. The central theme referred to in the title of the exhibition, that of ‘three,’ draws specifically on the tridactic notions of subject, other and another and can be detected interweaving throughout the exhibition. A touch which I loved, is that the theme of three is repeated in the triangular walls that cut through the gallery space and act as supports for various works, as well as silently guiding the viewer through.
Each piece deals with concepts of community, communication and didactic poles of existence and absence, public and personal. A melancholy, disjointed, restless atmosphere permeates the galleries. Voice can be immediately recognised as a key media in her works as it can be heard wherever you happen to be within the exhibition.
‘Video Trilogy,’ (2004-6), shows scenes in Seoul, London, Sao Paulo, Berlin and Amsterdam, although the footage contains few clues as to specific whereabouts. Anonymous crowds weave through spaces that could be anywhere, really, to the sound of Yang’s fragmented babelogue. The feeling here is that the artist is lost within these crowds and trying to tentatively reach out to form a bond, but the experience is daunting. The fragmented narration is like private thoughts which often jump back and forth incomprehensibly.
‘Dehors,’ (2006), is a slide projection of 162 real estate adverts taken from Korean newspapers. The images have been back lit so that the characters on the reverse side of the papers are visible, thus highlighting the multi-faceted uses and abuses of the media; fact versus fiction, for example. Somehow, these Utopian ideals of new, desirable homes, are turned into empty and depressing promises.
‘Series of Vulnerable Arrangements- Shadowless Voice Over Three,’ (2008) is the showstopper, filling the whole of the third floor gallery. An arrangement of Venetian blinds, heat lamps, mirrors, fans, scent dispersers and lights have been carefully choreographed into a nightmarish maze which is both disorientating and intimidating. The various electrical devices switch on and off at intervals, triggered by movements of viewers to the exhibition. These everyday objects, normally disassociated from one another, are connected as one entity via a shared power source. Un-nerving visual and sensory experiences in which the viewer scrambles to find something familiar in, are interrupted without warning by anyone who cares to speak into the microphone which is amplified throughout the piece. The voice is welcoming and obtrusive in the same time in the fact that it’s both familiar and strange.
I left this exhibition feeling somewhat dizzy and not just from the dark maze of venetian blinds and mirrors. The whole experience was disorientating to me; objects that should be familiar adopt different personas in terms of their relationship to other objects in the space. It’s this literal space between the objects in which communication takes place. Haegue Yang ingeniously manages to highlight these forgotten negative spaces to cast a different light on things. Confused? Me too. Worth a visit? For sure!