Hwayeon Nam

Hwayeon Nam

ARKO Art Center

Hwayeon Nam, Field Recording, 2015. Video, 12:42 minutes.

April 8, 2015

Hwayeon Nam
Time Mechanics
April 10–June 28, 2015

Opening: April 9, 6pm

Arko Art Center
1 Gallery (1F) 
110-809, Dongsung-gil 3
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11–19h
29 April, 27 May & 24 June, 11–21h
Free admission 


Arko Art Center proudly presents Hwayeon Nam’s solo exhibition, Time Mechanics. Having shown her distinctively experimental practice with various media including performance, video, and sound through different platforms including exhibition spaces, performance stages, and theaters. Hwayeon Nam’s (b. 1979, Seoul) artistic potential has been well acknowledged over the last several years in Seoul and in the international scene. Time Mechanics is her premiere solo show through which her oeuvre will be intensively represented. 

In Time Mechanics at the Arko Art Center, five pieces of newly commissioned video and photography work will be represented. The exhibition will show, in particular, her idiosyncratic linguistic performativity and the formal characteristics of her works that attempt to understand epistemologically the objects, human desires, reality in time and in societal space. Based on her interests that have evolved over the last couple of years while she working in Berlin, Nam questions how collected and documented objects like Jikji, one of the oldest printed books in history as well as how natural objects and phenomena like bird sounds, orchids, and comets become objects of desire or are transformed into differentiated forms of existences. Such questions are found in the exhibition through her video, sound installation and photography works, which bring a compelling performative quality to the space. 

Amongst her newly commissioned video and photography works at the Arko Art Center, Field Recording borrows the mode of “field recording,” which is used for documenting, collecting and categorizing the sounds of birds into an archive. A performer in the video emulates several types of bird sounds in an archive: they listen to the different sounds of birds via headphones and imitate them, and the sounds of humans that mimic the birds are also played in a narrow hallway situated in the exhibition space. Coréen 109 is a single-channel video about Jikjisimchaeyojeol, the world’s oldest wood print book from the Goryeo Dynasty and now labeled as the acquisition “Coréen 109″ in Bibliothéque Nationale de France (National library of France). Coincidently interested, Hwayeon Nam asked the library to access the book but they only provided her a link to online archives instead of showing the actual book. Online information about the Jikjisimchaeyojeol took place of the physical absence of the original book, an experience that became the primary motif of the work. Accompanying the process of collecting digitalized information on Jikjisimchaeyojeol, Nam also attempts to trace the collecting trajectory of the book, as an object, using acquisition histories of previous collectors of the book and of the Bibliothéque Nationale de France in its Orient and Eastern Collection. Linking and juxtaposing various fragmentary footages, Coréen 109, rather, questions about current unquestionable phenomena to possess and display its symbolic values or old memories without physical experience, allowing its contact with digitalized Internet data, which goes back and forth across disparate times and spaces in a process of tracing. The video work, Ghost Orchid, puts together a voice reading out a letter with movements and a performer who mimics various shapes of orchid plants and flowers in a botanical garden in Berlin. The letter was written by an orchid hunter, Wilhelm Micholitz, to his client, Frederick Sander in 1891. This work reminds of an early exampleof human obsession with symbolical scarcity, which is still very relevant to our current financial capitalism. Also, in her video titled Adoration of the Magi, Nam looks into the comet, a natural phenomenon, as it flows out of the Christian belief system and into being an object of scientific analysis. Lastly, installed in a long, narrow corridor near the installation of mimicked bird sounds, Ant Time is a series of photo documents of the artist’s thorough observation that captures ants’ trajectories with a 90-centimeter-long thread and measures the duration of their unrecognizably subtle movements. 

The exhibition provides interesting audio-visual elements in an exhibition space that intermixes footage-based video works with historical archives and images, movements and sounds of humans that mimic flora and fauna and the artist’s contemplation on human’s intensive desires. Further, in Time Mechanics, the audience can not only witness the singularity of each exhibited piece of works but can also have a synesthetic experience of aggregated performance during which all works are interlaced as an entity. 
Artist Hwayeon Nam
Hwayeon Nam lives and works in Berlin and Seoul. Her particular interest is in time—as embedded in all kinds of things, including humans—and in the notion of time as a social construct. Over recent years, her practice has researched ways of producing various dramaturgies of the present through performance and video and has been deeply engaged in a process that she considers the choreography of time-navigation.

Hwayeon Nam studied Fine Arts at Cornell University in Ithaca, USA and Korea National University of Arts in Seoul, Korea. Since 2014, she is continuing her study in Hochschulübergreifendes Zentrum Tanz in Berlin, Germany. Recent exhibitions and performances include The Decisive Moments, Arko Arts Archive, Seoul, 2014; Inventing Temperature, Korean Cultural Center UK, London, 2014; Nouvelle Vague, Memorial Park, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2013; No Mountain High Enough, Audio Visual Pavilion, Seoul, 2013; Dimensions Variable, Festival Bo:m, Seoul, 2013; Move: on the spot, The Korea National Museum of Arts, 2012; and A Garden of Italy, Festival Bo:m, Seoul, 2012. Nam is also recently invited to the forthcoming Venice Biennale by the artistic director, Okwui Enwezor.

Also on view:
Crow’s Eye View: The Korean Peninsula, March 12–May 10
Satin Ions, Nina Canell, May 29–August 9 

For more information, contact greenray [​at​] arko.or.kr / T +82 2 760 4608 

Hwayeon Nam at Arko Art Center
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ARKO Art Center
April 8, 2015

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