Journal of History of Modern Art 2021 KCI Impact Factor : 0.88

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2022, Vol., No.51

  • 1.

    Reality of Art, Art of Reality: Lee Yil’s Early Art Criticism (1962-1974)

    Ji Eun Sung | 2022, (51) | pp.5~29 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract
    In this essay, I examine how art critic Lee Yil placed Korean art within the topography of the international art world and what he proposed as the future of Korean art, envisaging autonomous Korean art in the 1960s and the 1970s. I particularly focus on the concept of reality, which was transformed in many ways in his criticism. In his representational view of art, that is, “art which draws what is seen,” reality was the ‘fact’ that is seen. Encountering the discourse of contemporary civilization and related new art forms in the mid-1960s, Lee Yil came to comprehend reality, the object of art, as contemporary civilization, and proposed technology- and object-based art as an ideal of Korean art. This overlapped with the activity of the Korean Avant-garde Association, which actively used Marshall McLuhan’s perspective in their art discussion. Nonetheless, in 1971, after a series of attempts and doubting the feasibility and legitimacy of applying the discourse of contemporary civilization to Korean art, Lee Yil came up with a new concept of reality, which was a phenomenologically reduced world, and also with a new kind of art form, which he called “obŭje art.” Lee’s continuous attempts to keenly react to the currents of the international art world, to seek the meaning of reality, and thus, to discover and realize a desirable kind of Korean art were the basis of diverse artistic experimentations during the period.
  • 2.

    Experimental Art Exhibitions of Korea’s AG(Avant-Garde) Group

    Chung Yeon Shim | 2022, (51) | pp.31~56 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract
    In the history of postwar Korean art, Dansaekhwa has garnered international attention in terms of both art history and the art market. At the same time, the exhibition history of Korean art groups such as AG(Avant-Garde) attests to the diverse discussions and debates on the issue of ‘experimental arts’ in Korea. This paper analyses the art and essays of these experimental artists as well as critical protagonist Lee Yil. It also explores AG’s exhibition history in relation to “avant-garde modern art” that its journal pursued. In the journal, participants discussed the “environmentalization of spatial art,” “experience-based art theory” and “methods,” in Lee Yil’s terms. The members organized three major AG exhibitions and the Seoul Biennale(1974) and published the journal AG four times between its establishment in 1969 and its dissolution in 1975. They employed dematerialized nature in their works by responding to the urbanization of the Seoul metropolis at that time. Inspired by the Paris and São Paulo Biennales, the AG group considered “international contemporaneity” significant to their activities and exhibitions.
  • 3.

    Essay on the Discourse of ‘Technology Art’ Exhibition in 1990s

    Lee Eunjoo | 2022, (51) | pp.57~79 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract
    This study analyzes the period when new media art based on cutting-edge technology became part of contemporary art, and examines the concept of technology art created within the artistic activities and exhibition discourse of the 1990s. It looks into the expansion of the middle zone, the boundary, pluralism, and hybrid cultures, which are not defined by dichotomous concepts such as technology and art, nature and technology, tradition and globalization, universality and specificity, center and periphery, and modernism and post-modernism. The artists and critics who developed the technology art discourse of the 1990s paid attention to the new phenomenon of visual perception arising in the art world. They tried to describe the aesthetic phenomenon in which ‘technology’ was used in art by referring to ‘technoart,’ ‘high-tech art,’ and ‘technology art’ instead of the singular term ‘technology.’ An artist who played a major role in revitalizing exchanges at home and abroad in line with Kim Young-sam’s government’s globalization policy was Nam June Paik. Thanks to the policy, along with Nam June Paik’s retrospective exhibitions like the 30th Anniversary of Video Art, technology-based art forms began to take root. In addition to The More, The Better in 1988, Nam June Paik produced Fractal Turtle Ship for the 1993 Daejeon International Exposition. In the same year, he served as commissioner for the Whitney Biennale and planned the Info Art Exhibition for the Gwangju Biennale. He greatly influenced Korea’s large-scale media art exhibitions of the 1990s. In the 1960s and 1970s, several artists produced video art and multi-media works in Korea, but they were not actively discussed within the realm of art discourse. In the 1990s, an increase in government-led international events resulted in a large number of media art exhibitions, and the artist and exhibition discourse surrounding technology art increased the aesthetic value of art that incorporates technology.
  • 4.

    Conceptual Art and Conceptualism of Korean Art: Focusing on the Multiple Contexts of Global Conceptualism (1999)

    Woo Jung-Ah | 2022, (51) | pp.81~112 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract
    This study explores the discursive construction of conceptual art and conceptualism in Korean contemporary art with a particular focus on Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, 1950s-1980s, an exhibition at Queens Museum in New York in 1999. The curators of the exhibition defined conceptual art that arose in New York in the mid-1960s as a formalist endeavor in the wake of modernist art. Conceptualism, on the other hand, is distinguished from conceptual art as an activist practice with political consciousness and social engagement, and appeared in multiple forms across the globe. The Korean section of Global Conceptualism was curated by Sung Wan-kyung, a formidable voice of Minjung Misul (People’s Art), a leftist art movement that emerged in the 1980s. Although Sung had been consistently critical of the conceptual art of Korean artists, especially by the ST Group (1969-1981), as apolitical, formalist, and elitist, he presented their early works along with those of Minjung artists. The organization of the exhibition reveals Sung’s attempt to resolve the decade-long opposition between modernism and Minjung Misul by reevaluating ST Group’s practices as a historical conceptualization of Korean art, in which the artists presented primordial forms of institutional critique. However, his primary purpose, I argue, was the redemption of Minjung Misul, at a time when its grounds for political struggle had vanished because of global and local social changes of the late 1980s, by redefining it as political conceptualism. It is notable that Sung ruled out the most representative paintings of social realism, once the legitimate style for Minjung Misul’s political enlightenment, and instead advocated photographs and photo montages. I argue that the discourses and practices surrounding conceptualism initiated the changes of Minjung Misul from the mid-1990s and eventually transformed the topography of Korean contemporary art.
  • 5.

    A Scene of Korean Eco-Art: A Focus on the cognition of mind and life

    Park Yunjo | 2022, (51) | pp.113~135 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract
    This paper examines the cases of Eco-Art exhibitions and works based on ecological thinking that have recently been discussed in the Korean art world. Korean Eco-Art exhibitions have become important loci for ecological discourse, such as climate, earth, environment, ecology, sustainability and anthropology, and suggest eco-friendly exhibition methods. Many eco artists are also trying to restore the relationship between art and nature. Among them, Kang Soolsaeng and Cho Eunji have been working on ecological thinking for life as a key theme. Their work is linked to Gregory Bateson’s theory of ecological perception of mind and life. Kang attempts to observe life in the farming process on Jeju Island, and Cho adopts a shaman-like performance to restore the disconnected relationship between humans and non-humans. The artists have thus been building a multi-layered network of relationships between humans and nature. Their art acts are attempting a non-hierarchical connection between existing value systems, searching for concepts such as mind and life. In these artistic practices that change perceptions of nature and society, Korean Eco-Art should be understood through ecological thoughts and values that have hitherto been excluded from the discussions in the history of art.
  • 6.

    Binghamton Letter: Nam June Paik at ETC

    Bookyung Son | 2022, (51) | pp.137~156 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract
    By examining Paik’s work in cooperation with Experimental Television Center (ETC) in the early 1970s, this study explores the close bond between Paik’s work and the television viewers specific to the dominant media situation at the time. ETC, as an alternative media center, was established in 1969 by Ralph Hocking, and played a pivotal role in the early history of American video art during the 1970s. The Center’s primary purpose was to provide technical support for video artists. It also led to collaborations between artists and technicians through their residence program. For Paik, the Center was a technical outpost for his works in the early 1970s. A large portion of his work was in fact created at the Center. As well illustrated in his essay “Binghamton Letter” (1972), Paik’s thoughts on conventions of communication in video art became more organized during the same period. Both the works produced for broadcasting and notes he wrote at the time show that those activities largely have to do with his interest in the structure of communication in both watching television and video image. In that sense, his work and idea on the changing experience of video art at the time can be better examined in light of the cultural techniques, including viewer’s mental skills, aptitude, and habits accumulated among individuals of specific cultural backgrounds.
  • 7.

    The Postmemory Generation and Being Abandoned: Jane Jin Kaisen’s Film Community of Parting

    Dong-Yeon Koh | 2022, (51) | pp.157~189 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract
    This paper considers how postmemory generation artists have re-defined the notions of cultural identity and “home” as non-fixed; and in flux. In her theory of the postmemory generation, Marianne Hirsch posited the postmemory generation’s dual relationship with historical trauma. However, she fails to consider the “distanced” position of the postmemory generation relative to tragic historical events as a strength rather than a weakness. In this paper, I show that this temporal and geographical “distance” provides the postmemory generation with an alternative perspective on working not only with memories but also with cultural identities. I examine the triangular relationship between the themes of the postmemory generation, Korean diaspora, and shamanism in Jane Jin Kaisen’s film Community of Parting (2019). By concentrating on the dual self-image in Kaisen’s narration and voice, followed by an analysis of the natural landscape in Community of Parting, I intend to highlight a unique cultural vantage point of the artist who is both a member of the diaspora and the postmemory generation. Through this, this study sheds light upon the hitherto understudied area of Korean diaspora artists’ relationships to historical tragedies, shamanism, and cultural boundaries.
  • 8.

    Politics of the Thaw at the Crossroads of Internationalism: North Korea and the Art of Socialist Countries Exhibition in Moscow, 1958-1959

    Young Ji Lee | 2022, (51) | pp.191~228 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract
    This essay examines how the polemics of the Thaw affected the local and global productions and receptions of socialist realist art by investigating the Art of Socialist Countries Exhibition that opened in Moscow in 1958. This groundbreaking exhibition, which displayed approximately three thousand art pieces from twelve socialist countries in Asia and Europe, provided a panoramic and democratic site where each country’s recent achievements in contemporary art could be seen together from a comparative perspective. During the Thaw, Asian and European socialist countries appropriated the Stalinist tenet of “socialist in content and national in form” to further develop socialist art with national characteristics. Unlike the Stalinist era, which attempted to impose rigid rules and aesthetic principles on socialist realists under Zhdanovism, the age of the Thaw emphasized individuality, peace, diversity, and contemporaneity. Their global promotion resulted partly from criticism by the socialist camp of capitalist countries for the loss of those values. The revised discourse of international socialist realism bolstered the diverse national traditions and national arts of socialist countries as representations of the ideals of the Thaw. In contrast to the assumption that Soviet satellite countries developed their strong national art to obtain cultural autarky from Soviet hegemony, this study argues that the Soviet Union under the Thaw compelled its fraternal countries to celebrate their diverse national arts partly to defend the Eastern bloc from ideological attack by the West.