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The Discourse and Practice of Institutional Critique : Lee Wan's ‘Painting Series’ and Park Sangwoo's ‘Monochrome Photography’

  • The Journal of Aesthetics and Science of Art
  • Abbr : JASA
  • 2018, 53(), pp.253-286
  • DOI : 10.17527/JASA.53.0.08
  • Publisher : 한국미학예술학회
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Other Arts and Kinesiology
  • Published : February 28, 2018

Kim, Kisoo 1

1계명대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The goal of this paper lies in elucidating the art-historical significance of Lee Wan's solo exhibition ≪A Diligent Attitude Towards a Meaningless Thing≫(2017. 2. 15-3. 10, 313 Art Project) and Park Sangwoo's first photography exhibition ≪New Monochrome: from Painting to Photography≫(2017. 2. 9-3. 5, Gallery Lux) in the context of contemporary art, particularly of institutional critique as a branch of conceptual art. ‘Institutional critique’ remains unfamiliar in the Korean artworld but very important in the historical development of contemporary art. It is because institutional critique has been an essential artistic practice when it comes to advancing such a field of contemporary art that has replaced the formalist modern art. In short, Lee Wan's ‘Painting Series’ and Park Sangwoo's ‘New Monochrome’ may be most clearly explained as critical projects against the modernist art institution underpinning the so-called current fever of dansaekhwa in Korea. For ‘Painting Series’, Lee Wan paid several dayworkers an hourly wage and let them diligently prime a series of canvases with slender paint brushes, and then finished off those primed canvases with traces of lines like his meaningless signs or doodles. Thereafter, Lee declared that these collaborative pieces are ‘meaningless paintings.’ This paper contends that this collaboration and his declaration are strategically orientated to criticize the established modernist institution of (especially, dansaekhwa) art. Specifically whether treating Lee's pieces as ‘meaningless things’ by accepting Lee's declaration plainly, or appreciating Lee's pieces as ‘meaningful images’ or ‘conceptual artwork’ despite Lee's declaration, this paper argues that Lee's ‘Painting Series’ functions as a project against the given institution of art inasmuch as Lee's pieces will turn out to annul such modernist doctrines as originality, genius, and uniqueness. Meanwhile, in his ‘Monochrome Photography’, Park Sangwoo invented his own genre of ‘new monochrome’ that no existing painting can represent but only photography can express, by using the optical apparatus of photography, specifically by taking closeup photographs of the fingerprints or cracks of smart-phone's screen and Korean bills or coins. Then, Park entitled each of his monochrome photographs, for instance, <Secret of Black Square> and <Mono Gold> which easily remind us of Kazimir Malevich and Yves Klein, and <Digital Écriture I> and <From a Line> which immediately recall Park Seo-bo and Lee Ufan. This paper examines how Park Sangwoo aims to strategically criticize the formalist modernism of Kant-Greenberg that shores up not just Western monochrome but also Korean dansaekhwa, and the system of capitalism in coextensive relation to modernist aesthetics, through his monochrome photographs' closeness to the reality of the world.

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