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  • Name
  • Period 2015-10-01 ~ 2015-10-11
  • Place Cheongju Art Studio

Exhibition Overview


This exhibition takes as its starting point the very institutional and infrastructural context where it is organised, the Cheongju Art Studio, a space dedicated to the support and dissemination of innovative art practices. Kunsthalle Archaeology brings together the work of six Korean and international artists to produce multiple “lines of flight”, critically reflecting on the emergence of such public art spaces and on the logic which governs them. Indeed, in the 1960s and 1970s, a radical questioning of the modern museum format, founded on a rationalist epistemology of knowledge through vision and based on the activity of collecting, arose. From a repository of artefacts offered to the contemplation of the viewer, curators started championing ideas of the museum as “information centre”, as “site of communication”, or simply as a form of “activity” when exhibitions completely broke free from the institutions’ wall. Sometimes, more generically, it was simply referred to as the “open museum”. Generally influenced and supported by cybernetic theories, the will to redefine and reconfigure exhibition spaces expressed in these concepts advocated a museum inscribed in their very local social and urban fabric: sites not only for art but of social activity and participation, enmeshed in an information network in which everything – following a concentric schematization, the museum architecture, the artworks exhibited, the museum staff and artists, the audience, and a range of communication devices – was seen as interconnected and circulating smoothly, with the distinction between the inside and the outside transcended.

While its title refers to the “Kunshalle”, a model of institution founded by artists functioning without collections in German-speaking parts of Europe, which came to embody the ideals of this new museum based on public participation, this exhibition wishes to produce its “archaeology”. Probing situations where artistic, curatorial and architectural discourses overlap or confront each other, Kunsthalle Archaeology is an experiment in de-essentializing such a model and remap it through its encounter with its Korean counterpart. For instance, a multiple and post-western genealogy of the new museum can be traced back to the work of Kim Swoo Geun and his design for the Arko Museum in Seoul or his entry for the Pompidou Centre competition in 1971. Indeed, Kim’s unrealized project reflects a similar concern in making exhibition spaces more flowing, a vision for art and its context also paralleled through his programs which included avant-garde music, installation art and happenings in his SPACE building. Nevertheless, Kunsthalle Archaeology is neither an architectural exhibition nor a comprehensive presentation of artworks directly engaging with the architectural and discursive formation of the museum as a site of information and communication. Rather, it takes up these historical moments in their capacity as raising curatorial “problematic” (Gilles Deleuze), namely, rendering such problems visible. If the “Kunsthalle model” is one that present itself as state of permanent constructive conflict with contemporary art production and the contemporary art system” (Beatrix Ruf), Kunsthalle Archaeology seeks to problematize this logic within the context of the Cheongju Art Studio.

French-Korean duo KVM’s (Ju Hyun Lee & Ludovic Burel) Yukgeori Market, September 15 (2015) deals with vernacular design, more specifically, chairs tuned by merchants on the markets of China or Korea. In the present case, the works on display result from a protocol devised by the artists to borrow furniture from stalls in Cheongju’s Yukeori Market for the duration of the show. Unlike industrial design, ordinary design does not rely on any symbolic capital or technical skills but pertain to the realm of care (for objects, for oneself). Adopting the display conventions of the design company Vitra, KVM’s installation is a comment on the logic and disciplinary power of design objects.

Werner von Mutzenbecher’s Kunsthalle (1969) was commissioned as part of the exhibition Für Veränderungen aller Art (1969) at the Basel Kunsthalle in Switzerland. Mutzenbecher filmed and described the emptied rooms of the museum, following its lines, depths and geometry, and by so doing, revealing its aesthetic and expressive qualities. Originally, Kunsthalle was presented inside one of the very rooms it filmed (and not in a cinema), responding the the curator Peter Althaus’ experiment with his notion of the “open museum”. Hence, when shown in different contexts, Kunsthalle becomes an autonomous film and loses its reflexive dimension vis-à-vis the exhibition apparatus. In the frame of Kunsthalle Archaeology, the film oscillates between these two positions of reflexitivy and autonomy.

Oh Taekwan’s Overlap Area II (2015) consists in a wooden box in which five paintings are integrated. The viewer is able to interchange Oh’s careful pictorial constructions which operate between graphic composition and expressive gestures, moving outside of the canvas and bringing a participatory element into painting. Oh’s ingenious device, by its compact size, stands in stark contrast to his usual paintings on canvas, generally monumental. This miniaturization of his work constitutes a personal museum of sorts, akin to other artists’ museums, which function as individual exhibitionary fictions to reflect on their institutional settings.
Park Jeehee’s Research of Lace Curtain in Aylesbury Estate (2014) results from the artists investigation into the social, spatial and material conditions and histories of gentrifying neighbourhoods in London. In this specific pair of laser-carved Perspex plates, Park has conflated both a visual rendition of the location’s map with motifs found on the estate’s window curtains, that is, respectively, the vertical and macroscopic visual regime to which it pertains, and the horizontal one, the window through which the boundary between the public and private spheres is negotiated. The window is a quintessential device of modernity; both as a cultural and commercial artefact (as shop or museum glass vitrine), it is through them that objects are made accessible to the viewer’s desires or knowledge. Yet, in Park’s sculptural and optical apparatus, this modernist characteristic of transparency is upset as what is to be seen is precisely what renders the plates, through the juxtaposition of map and curtain pattern, opaque, to produce another map, one that charts relations between the materiality of the work and the urban milieu it addresses.

Speaker (2013) by Luuk Schroeder was made during his stay at Nanji residency in Seoul. Commissioned to produce a piece for a public sculpture park, Schroeder placed a speaker broadcasting chanted comments about the surrounding artworks. A sculpture that was never intended to be a sculpture; A modernist sculpture placed at the bottom of a lake; A sculpture that attracts insects. Like most of Schroeder’s pieces, Speaker raises the question of where the work starts and what actually constitutes it. Indeed, the video might only be a documentation – rendered autonomous through its exhibition – of a piece which only exists through the performativity of the voice. As such, Speaker not only questions the limits of the artwork but distributes them somewhere within the whole process itself: from shooting, recording to exhibiting, what makes the work “hold” does not rely on the institutional context but on a demand to the viewer.

The Book Society operates as an independent bookstore in Seoul doubling as a cultural space and a platform for publishing, often involved in editorial and curatorial projects. Their Unfinished List (2015-ongoing) is a collection of ephemera and publications produced by art spaces and institutions across Korea, organised by designers. Personal and composed of scattered printed matter, this archive functions as a kind visual history of Korean exhibition spaces through design, attesting of their existence by way of visual communication, a prime feature of new museums as it were.

Hence, by bringing together these diverse singular practices, Kunsthalle Archaeology not only retraces the multiple planes that constitute the histories of public art spaces but also wishes to produce new ones.  Adeena Mey, Cheongju, October 2015.

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