November 14, 2007 08:00 am | I was standing there, looking at a photograph of two men in a rowboat; one is lowering into a lake a large chunk of stone with some kind of script etched into it, the second is videotaping the first one do it. There is a second rowboat farther away with two more people in it, one of them looks worried, the other looks as though he were hired to row the boat and wasn’t about to ask questions.
While mentally relating this photo to the one next to it which was several glasses on a floor reflecting the word “water” right-side up from the upside down image on the wall behind it a sudden sound broke my concentration.
I turned around to see performer An Chi In accompanied by a flurry of red and blue papers whirling about, his bleach white coveralls splashed in paint of the same colors, not coincidentally the same colors which adorn the South Korean flag.
SEGMENT is the result of over a year’s worth of organization between Hungarian galleries (2B, Ráday, IX, and Erlin) and South Korean galleries (Igong, Wooyeon and Yian).
While a dozen or so Hungarians displayed their work in Korea in July of this past summer, this part represents the Korean contingent of the exchange, which runs until Nov 21.
Fortunately, the galleries in District IX’s Ráday utca (numbers 47-49) are all right beside each other. The opening of SEGMENT (on some publicity listed as SEGMENT IV) on Sunday, Nov 4 was an unusually welcoming art gallery opening.
I say this not purely because the chin-holding, head-nodding “I get it, but I’m not telling” crowd was largely absent, but because the life and spirit of this collaboration beamed onto Raday út with a genuine glow.
An over-arching theme among many of the artists seems to be a deep, soulful appreciation and respectful love of nature, particularly water, wind and wood.
In some cases it is not the actual artwork itself on display, but a reproduction or documentation of it.
This is partly because some of the work is environmental installation. There are also several large scale photo prints and many original paintings and installations. While ideas of Eastern philosophical balance are evident in many of the pieces, there is a cautionary tone as well, almost a warning that currently the world is not so balanced.
In Yoo Dongjo’s 10-year-long international enviro-installation, he drops a 20 kilogram stone into any one of 12 lakes across the globe, on each stone is written the word “water” in the language of that country.
His simple yet beautiful idea is that if, and when, the lake dries up, however many years from now, there will still be the memory at least of the water.
Korean curator Jeon Hyungwon’s painting Tree and I (the title is a linguistic play on the Chinese symbol for “rest”) explores dreamlike peace of the forest, but also the difficulty of slowing down in this technological age.
While I regret missing An Chi In’s performance because of a bottle-necked entrance to the performance space in the rear of the gallery, I am glad that I was surprised by his entrance into the larger space.
As he fervently hurled papers at the ceiling- allowing them to fall in spirals on the crowd, my feeling was that all he wanted was for us to notice the air.
by Kevin Rees
2007. 11. 14.