Two exhibitions show the artist as entertainer

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Two exhibitions show the artist as entertainer

Throughout the history of Western art, fine art has existed as a form of entertainment.
Call it pop art or cheap art. Yet, the academic community in art has consistently defined pop artists as those lacking artistic depth.
It’s hard to believe that artists and curators are still talking about the same subject. In Korea, two exhibits pose ideas of humor and pleasure in art, showing what it means for artists to produce works as entertainers in an age of moving images and digital reproduction.
“Funny, Funny” might sound like a title for a bad comedy show. But it’s an annual exhibit at Gallery Sejul that examines the notion of humor in popular culture.
This year, it brings together the works of eight young contemporary artists, whose output comments on aspects of hybrid culture. Unfortunately, a lot of the works in the exhibit reiterate the styles of postmodern art that hit the fashion-savvy art scene in the ’80s, filled with plastic dolls and peculiar objects that make stale references to pop culture.
In the gallery, Sohn Dong-hyun uses traditional ink painting to depict popular animation characters and movie icons like “Batman” or “The Incredibles.” In “People,” Byeong Dae-yong creates small glass miniatures of human figures clad in futuristic designs.
Jeong So-yeon poses a mature model of the artist’s role as a public entertainer in her solo exhibit.
In “Funnier Exhibition, Really, Really!” an installation at Ssamzie Space, she parodies the efforts of contemporary artists to lure the audience by their works.
Unfortunately, the installation doesn’t provide the kind of humor the audience expects, but that may be exactly the point.
In the Garage Gallery on the first floor, Jeong presents “Welcome to My House,” which replicates a room in her apartment with a video projection showing an image of the artist’s everyday interactions with her son.
The Project Gallery on the second floor features “Shout,” a multimedia installation that was created in collaboration with a team of scientists from the multimedia department of Chung-Ang University, where Jeong is currently enrolled as a doctoral student.
Finally in the Main Gallery on the third floor, the artist presents an installation of special vending machines from which the audience can purchase the artist’s CD-ROM wrapped in a clear plastic sphere, containing her portfolio and a compilation of her video works.
The title of the exhibit raises an obvious question about the nature of art and an increasing attitude among artists to focus on the presentation of art rather than its substance. It questions whether art can be perceived as a game or a product that provides instant pleasure. The answer depends on the audience, again, to decide how to define art.

by Park Soo-mee

“Funnier Exhibition, Really, Really!” a solo exhibition of Jeong So-yeon, runs through Sept. 7 at Ssamzie Space in Hongdae. For more information call 02-3142-1693 or visit “Funny Funny” runs through Aug. 14 at Gallery Sejul in Pyeongchang-dong. Sejul is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday. For more information, call 02-391-9171.
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