The study begins with doubts about the consistency unique to Korean art history, which criticizes contemporary art works from a modernistic perspective. The postmodernism discourse was sparked by the declaration of the death of the Cartesian Self. In particular, postmodernism in art is discussed in a pluralistic and mixed form, rejecting the unity of the media boundaries and areas that modernism has adhered to. But in South Korea, the discussion of postmodernism has been transformed and refracted. In particular, it is alien to discuss subjectivity and identity with a modern and a totalitarian view while criticizing in the context of postmodernism.
In South Korea, postmodernism discourse only began in the 1980s, but before then, various artistic movements with experimental tendencies developed in the art world. The art scene, which deviated from formal modernism, called for a new critical language and postmodernism was accepted as an alternative. At the time, however, the Korean art circles were divided into modernist groups that connect abstract paintings and Minjung art that advocated the harmony of life and art. As a result, postmodernism was re-mixed with partial understanding and selective acceptance as necessary. The paper reviews from a critical point of view how the Western postmodernist discourse was re-contextualized in the process of being introduced to Korea.
Specifically, this paper will focus on 1970s performance and 1980s folk art to discuss the fact that the artist-as-subject is emerged and ethnic identity is granted in experimental art works. Lee Gun-yong, who led the group ST, erased the epistemological subject by using his body as a tool for his works, but his works are still understood as a cognitive action. Minjung Art, which broke away from gallery art, seeks to restore its national identity. This study will look at the Korean context that has caused this mixed area, and also shed light on the historical specialties of ideological identity oriented in Korean art.