Artist Revisits Childhood Oppression Through Art

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Artist Revisits Childhood Oppression Through Art

A peaceful three-story marble house reflects in a round mirror. When moving closer, however, one realizes that it is not a pastoral view of an ordinary house. Instead, it sits on top of a marble pedestal surrounded by wire netting.

The embedded message is that the house, which appears peaceful from one point-of-view is, in reality, alienated and oppressed by the materials used--cold rigid marble and wire netting.

Her work, entitled, 'Cell'(1995), 'House' represents a space that is closed-off from the outside world, a space where nobody knows what happens inside.

Joonang Hall and the National Museum of Contemporary Art will exhibit 'Louise Bourgeois: Space of Memory'beginning November 5th. The show deals with the issue of oppression and sexual discourse.

Bourgeois is a world-renowned feminist artist who gained recognition in sculpture and installation art. Last year at the 48th Venice Biennale, Bourgeois was nominated for a Golden Lion award and was chosen by 'Art News', American art magazine, as one of the 10 living masters of the world.

The National Museum of Contremporary Art's exhibit is the first that illustrates a retrospective of Bourgeois's work. It includes 62 pieces of her drawings, paintings, prints, sculpture, and installations from the 1940s to the present. Her work contains an autobiographical aspect which includes painful childhood memories. In a way, it represents a therapeutic process that reconstruct and sublimates her past memories.

Bourgeois's work is also based on an oppressive wound that was left by her family: a father who was a womanizer, a mother who was a recluse, her private English tutor who turned out to be her father's lover, a permiscuous sister and a brother who had an abusive character.

In her 'House-Women' series, Bourgeois digs into women's oppression, especially concerning women's domesticity. She placed a miniature house on top of a naked woman's head, representing a social phenomenon where a woman's identity is always defined by her domesticity.

In the 60s and 70s, she extensively dealt with human reproductive organs. She criticized male organs presenting them as symbols of violence forcing the opposite sex to be vunerable in their presence.

As Bourgeois joined the women's liberation movement in the 70s, she started exploring 'sex' as a sociological production ('gender') instead of a biological one. Entering the 90s, her 'Cell' series represent home as a symbol of both oppression and protection.

The French-American artist is known as a leading figure in feminist art for unveiling the contradictions that society has toward sexuality and women's sexual identity.

For more information 02-2188-6041

by Cho Hyun-wook

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