Art and clubbing collide at ‘Good Night: Energy Flash’
While nightclubs today may just seem like a noisy excuse to drink and dance, in its early days, the clubbing subculture offered a long-awaited space for young people to cut loose.
These midnight dance parties began in the 1970s in Europe and the United States, then often subject to the scorn of older, more conservative neighbors. Dance clubs began appearing in Korea in the mid-’90s as foreigners and young Korean students studying abroad brought the culture back with them.
In a vibrant underground venue in Itaewon, home to some of Seoul’s hottest nightlife, Hyundai Card Storage is presenting the “Good Night: Energy Flash” exhibition to explore the energy and sensations of underground club culture through contemporary art.
The exhibition brings together around 20 installations, photographs and paintings by 17 global artists. Archives of documents on Korean club culture have been put together by D.J. Maki, an active member of Korea’s underground scene today, while a collection of club flyers from around the world are also on display to help visitors better understand the development of the global phenomenon.
Mirror balls on “Orrery” (2019) by Kiichiro Adachi and bright tropical fish tanning lamps in “You Are My Burning Light” (2016) by Lee Won-woo give off disco vibes in the dim-lit underground venue. Photographs and paintings of crowds of people like Wolfgang Tillmans’ “The Spectrum/Dagger” (2014) and Jin Meyerson’s “The Age of Everyone 2” (2011-12) add to the mood.
“Good Night” offers plenty of chances for visitors to get in the groove. “PDPG (Personal DJ Peggy Gou)” (2019) is a telephone booth-like installation by Berlin-based Korean D.J. Peggy Gou, where visitors can pop on a pair of headphones and dance to beats alongside Gou’s silhouette.
It’s also hard not to let yourself loose to British artist Lotte Anderson’s “Dance Therapy” (2017), which features footage of people in “states of complete release within the club” shown in a semi-enclosed space.
“It’s a deconstructed look at our personal experiences of going out, partying and emancipation,“ Anderson, who describes herself as “quite a successful party thrower,” said during a local press briefing last Wednesday ahead of the exhibition’s launch the next day.
At the center of the exhibition is a D.J. booth “BK/HC/DJ/FAC70A” (2019) by British designer Ben Kelly. The booth was used by Gou herself during the exhibition’s opening party.
Several exhibits at “Good Night” present a more retrospective and critical look at the clubbing subculture.
British artist Matt Stokes’ “Real Arcadia” (2003-present), for example, is a collection of photographs, flyers and newspaper cuttings documenting the illegal “Cave Raves” during the Acid House era of the late ’80s and early ’90s.
New York-based Brazilian artist Eli Sudbrack, who goes by the alias assume vivid astro focus, also touched on the social and historical role of clubs with “Homocrap #1” (2005).
The installation, previously exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, is set in an isolated room offering plenty of entertainment with glowing neon lights and multi-gender sculptures. Visitors can even wear kaleidoscopic glasses for a heightened experience.
“Homocrap #1” is actually a tribute to the birth of the fight for gay rights in the United States in the early ’70s, a movement that gained momentum in the disco space, according to Sudbrack.
“People usually relate clubbing and dancing to escapism, and don’t realize it’s about politics as well,” he said. “I think that’s what this show is actually about, that it’s about politics of freedom, politics of body.”
BY KIM EUN-JIN [firstname.lastname@example.org]
“Good Night: Energy Flash” will run until Aug. 25 from noon to 9 p.m. from Tuesdays to Saturdays and until 6 p.m. on Sundays and holidays. Entry is 5,000 won ($4.40). Visit storage.hyundaicard.com for more information.