Private, But Pubic
Date : 2016-12-21 ~ 2017-02-04
Artist : YoungTaeg Ko, KiRa Kim, DongRyung Kim, KyungKun Park, YoungGle Keem, JungKyun Shin, BiHo Ryu, HeungSoon Im, SoJung Jun
2016 Wumin Theater
2016 Wumin Theater <Private, But Public>

When a rhetorical expression pointing to a suspicious event turns a simile into a reality, revealing its shadowy face, the cracks in our everyday life unfold the bare face of society which had been hidden and approach the truth which, from the beginning, had been disregarded by the practice of drawing a vague boundary between one’s ‘personal’ and ‘private’ realms.  This temporal veil has functioned as a valid excuse to lift the weight of common responsibilities directly/indirectly connected to the fundamental issue of an event as much as the shortened distance of realizing the reality.  This dichotomous logic of the public/private realm, within a vague boundary between the inside and the outside from a relative view, perhaps functions like the Negative Pressure Isolation that is designed to prevent a so called “suspicious air” surrounding our society from invading the realm of everyday life.
We already know of the chronic social ills from which society today ‘suffers’ and of the original form of social structural violence, though we do not want to accept it.  This exhibition stands on the rather obvious premise that there is no such thing as something completely personal or private, gazing upon the juncture where a personal issue and a social issue intersect, in reversed order, from a microscopic to macroscopic view.
Dongryung Kim’s <American Alley> captures the lives of camptown women in Korea, shedding light on the dark side of our society and suggesting that the viewers reconsider social ethics.  HeungsoonIm’s work begins with a personal story of an elderly women who lost her husband during the Jeju 4.3 incident, attempting to historically approach the tragic event of Korean history.  Sojung Jun pays attention to those who keep faith in what they do in this society undergoing a sudden change of modernization, heeding to the value of labor and tradition that are being forgotten.  Jungkyun Shin discovers specific evidence of how a political symbolic system influences a group or individuals in forming their identity, gathering up the floating signs of anxiety at a juncture where society and individuals intersect.  YounggleKeem, through the work <The Cares of a Family Man>, recreates a room filled with words that describe the psychology of a middle class man who underwent his downfall during the IMF period, looking into the sentiments and attitude of a head of household who had to face the social, economic crisis in the 1990s.  Kira Kim’s the <Weight of Ideology>summons the scars of national violence dormant in one’s subconsciousness through the testimony of the character under hypnosis.  BihoRyu’s<Inner View> rewinds sympathy and the course of grief towards those who suffered from the fallout of the massive industrial society.  YoungtaegKo focuses on the hand expressions of two people walking along the road.  In it, their hands seem to be almost touching one another but they never quite come into contact, generating a peaceful yet tense atmosphere, which alludes to the reality of the North-South division of Korea.  Through the artist’s family history passed down through generations from his grandfather to his father to himself, Kyungkun Park’s<Cheonggyecheon Medley> talks about the collective experience of modernization of the nation and the meta-historical meaning of steel which is linked to the industrialization of Korea schemed by the Japanese colonial rule to exploit Korea.
As this, the exhibition looks at the head of the householder’s room who underwent the so called IMF crisis in the 1990s, listening to the voice of victims who lost their beloved families due to an incident in the recent past, the confession of the elderly woman who lost her husband during the Jeju 4.3 incident, and looks into the weary lives of the camptown women.  Through this, the exhibition traces unforgettable pains and the phases of the times that left scars along with the social events.
The exhibition does not seek to draw crude empathy from those wounds rooted in the lives of individuals through the exhibited work.  Instead, it remain vigilant against the possible conceit that might lie in imagining the pain of others, hence revealing its limit of having to stay in the position of an observer.  I hope, however, the exhibition reminds us of the correct awareness of the situation that our existential limit of being unable to utterly understand the pain of others should not justify our indifference to the wounds of those who are sharing the same time with us; the reasonable doubt that even our existential will to survive at all costs, closing our eyes to situations around us, may have been deadly sins; the fact that I, my luck of being as the other, could always run out. 

Jihyun Cho