Artists probe issues of self and situation in exhibition“Bikini in Winter” is a poignant metaphor of estrangement experienced by artists who consider themselves cultural outsiders. It’s a reality faced by an underground Korean artist and five from abroad ― four from Southeast Asia, one from the Netherlands ― in their everyday lives, as the exhibit delves into the experience of artists who have spent an unexpectedly long cold winter in a country they had only heard about vaguely back home. Their experiences, both as artists and strangers in Korea, are boldly compared in the exhibit’s title and poster to a person standing in the cold wearing only a bikini.
The resulting works are a study of irony and the paradox of one’s identity.
Angki Purbandono, an artist from Yogyakarta, Indonesia, examines his shifting perceptions of identity through a series of “staged” self-portraits hung in his living room.
The photographs show the artist in varying poses while away from home ― in traditional Indonesian costume, in a typical outfit of a contemporary photographer and a picture of a dark-skinned man oddly posed in Korean costume in a folk village.
The work is an exploration of shifting identities when a person is situated out of context. Pubandono previously worked on a portrait series of young Muslim women who fight with tensions stemming from trying to assimilate tradition and modernity in their lives.
In “Something that tells you what someone is like,” Chananun Chotrungroj from Thailand portrays the experience of being aware of ourselves while being represented by others, through a series of photographs of naked people, each displayed with a mirror. Olivia Maria Glebbeek of the Netherlands examines identity through our fantasies and the desires we project; Ahmad Fuad Osman from Malaysia makes casts of his own face and hands them out to the audience as a gesture of exposing his identity to others.
Lesile de Chavez from the Philippines creates a hellish version of “The Last Supper” to portray the continuing problems suffered in his mother country. In his political satire, Chavez boldly replaces the faces of Jesus disciples with the icons of multinational companies to criticize the influence and effects of colonization on contemporary Filipino values.
In Chavez’s painting, a Ronald McDonald clown sucks blood from a man through a straw while in the foreground the hands of a drowning man reaching out from a liquid-looking floor. The image is like a sinister carnival with surreal characters engaged in strange activities.
The dark work is a follow up to a previous series of video-photo installations by Chavez that documented the problems of horrendous traffic, overcrowded streets, air pollution, corrupt policemen, robberies and holdups that have brought innumerable suffering to millions of his fellow Filipinos.
by Park Soo-mee
“Bikini in Winter” runs through June 30 at Gallery Loop.
For more information call (02) 3141-1075.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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