October 14, 2007 - Govett-Brewster Art Gallery - Activating Korea; Tides of collective action
October 14, 2007

Activating Korea; Tides of collective action

Lim Minouk, New town ghost, 2005

Activating Korea; Tides of collective action
Until 25 November 2007

Queen St, New Plymouth
Aotearoa New Zealand


BAE Young Whan, CDC, flyingCity, JNP Production, KIM Gisoo, Sang-Don KIM, KO Hyun Joo, Minouk Lim, mixrice, Hein-kuhn OH, PARK Chan-kyong

Exhibition Design: CHOI Jeong-hwa

Activating Korea: Tides of collective action looks at the complex and contradictory meanings of collectivism in South Korean contemporary artistic practices, within a society where traditional values coexist with today’s multifaceted changes. The works in this exhibition represent a shift from the political representations of South Korea’s authoritarian government, the Cold War and national division heralded by 1980s Minjung (people’s) art. Today, artists aim to raise awareness and effect change around issues such as urban development, immigration and national identity, and choose to work in collectives or collaboratively with communities, drawing on activist art practices, research and project-based activities. Featuring a range of media from photography, banners and posters, to video and design, the artists in this exhibition challenge the fast-paced cultural, economic and political changes facing South Korea.

The progressive Minjung art movement appeared in the 1980s as a critique of the derivative quality of Korean Modernism’s artistic language and ideology. Instead, it proposed to establish an ‘art for the people’ within Korean culture. Minjung art saw collective action as part of the political movement for democracy and used traditional media such as mural painting, banners or woodcut prints. With the emergence of a democratic society in the early 1990s, the relationship between art and politics weakened, bringing an end to the era of Minjung art. A conceptual reassessment of the ‘old’ political art and an active experimentation with new media followed, and today artists and collectives are now taking action, directly engaging with immigrant workers, the homeless, community movements, and regions like the Demilitarized Zone, which divides the two Koreas.

This exhibition is curated by Mercedes Vicente, Curator Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, and Beck Jee-sook, director of ARKO Art Center in conjunction with Insa Art Space of the Arts Council Korea.

A bilingual English/Korean catalogue featuring essays by Mercedes Vicente, Beck Jee-sook, among others, will be published February 2008.

In the presentation of Activating Korea: Tides of collective action, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery acknowledges the generous support of Insa Art Space, Arts Council Korea, Korea Foundation, Embassy of the Republic of Korea to New Zealand, Consular Agency of the Republic of Korea in Auckland, Asia New Zealand Foundation and Aalto Colour.

Also showing
Lisa Reihana: Digital Marae
Curator: Rhana Devenport assisted by Helen Telford
Until 2 December 2007

Lisa Reihana’s ongoing photographic and new media series Digital Marae presents powerful contemporary representations of Maori ancestral and cosmological figures. Exploring complex ideas about indigenous identity and contemporary living, Reihana continues her investigation of the expanded concept of the marae. As the centre of traditional Maori community life, the marae is a sanctuary where people congregate to discuss, share and debate; it is a site of ceremony and celebration deeply imbued with custom, structure and a sense of place. Reihana recreates a portable marae through a regenerative visualisation of female, male and takatapui (transgendered) figures, thus offering a renegotiated and open meeting space.

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
Share - Activating Korea; Tides of collective action
  • Share