The current batch of pieces at the Museum of Contemporary Art will only be around for a few more weeks and there’s plenty to enjoy. The artists are all internationally renowned and it is a joy to see their work being showcased for the first time in Seoul. There is work from the Danish artist Jesper Just, Pakistani Shahzia Sikander, Do Ho Suh – a highly respected and influential local – and a number of other visual artists, whose work will remain on display for the next few months.
Do Ho Suh
Do Ho Suh’s piece Home within Home within Home within Home within Home is an exact replica made of fabric of a home in Rhode Island where the artist lived in 1962. It is then embellished, as the title suggests, with numerous other identical homes within the largest one. The level of detail on these homes is remarkable to behold, it is compete even down to the names and addresses of the various other occupants of the tenement block at the time. The homes each float above one another in the same design and in the same peaceful purple colours as if they could be tricks in the eyes of the viewers.
Home within Home within Home within Home captures time so uniquely; the feeling of being inside a collection of floating time capsules is a captivating one. It brings up thoughts of the way that certain places and buildings can stay in our minds and yet fade away in reality. This piece eradicates the concept of decay. It eradicates the decay of the mind, of those remembering the home they’ve left behind, and the physical decay of the once remembered buildings, which have now been altered.
Much of the meaning and significance of Home within Home within Home within Home within Home can only be experienced through being present in the space, such is the nature of the installation, but the work of Jesper Just, which is purely video – based, differs from this because it does not require the viewer to be present in the space. His work creates tensions without language and invites the audience to perceive what they will. In This is a landscape of desire Just has an incessant drone playing throughout, which is courtesy of Danish electronic pioneer Trentemøller. The music adds to a sense of continuous unease. The camera shows women driving whose faces can only be seen in their own mirrors, which creates a certain dislocation between them. Cars are also shown en masse from a bird’s eye perspective; with the music bubbling underneath they appear almost like an alien plague.
Wherever the nameless women venture in the film they are never far from the sound of the motorway. It is a constant reminder of the presence of the seemingly endless force of motion which propels all human life in this environment. The women leave their cars at the side of the motorway and venture into the sparse grasslands beneath it, grasslands which are full of graffiti and rubbish – signs of a long period of neglect.
Neglect also runs through The Nameless Spectacle, which deals with a disabled woman who is living in an attractive but sinister town. The camera focuses solely on her and blurs everything out and the camera often shows her only from the back to give the impression that she is being followed. When the woman returns to her apartment she seems to either have an orgasm or an epileptic fit, or possibly both. As the name suggests, we are not left with many answers about what we are seeing or why it is significant, a narrative forms in the space where explanation might be.
There is no narrative in Sikander’s Pivot either. It instead relies on three screens showing similar but slightly different images, which are in constant movement on each screen. The music playing throughout is aggressive and sounds like a Moroccan jazz band on fire – in a good way. There are also spheres filled with spiders swirling in different directions on every screen before slowly migrating from the right screen to the left and disappearing in an abrupt origami explosion. This then morphs into a video of giant human arms which rotate in front of one another but never touch. It is an intensely engaging spectacle. Sikander began her professional life as a painter of Indo – Persian miniatures and has moved onto more modern art forms. This installation does look like a collection of precisely painted miniatures all combining together to create an impressive whole.
The same could be said of the work on display right now throughout the gallery. There is a huge amount of other work on display right now at the museum but these artists are worth a particular mention. Their work is on display for a limited time only and must be seen in person to be appreciated.
Here are some directions:
Get off at Gyeongbokgung Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 5, walk straight for about 700 meters (10 minutes on foot)
Get off at Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3, Exit 1, walk straight for 750 meters (12 minutes on foot)