Youn Ok Kim, Curator, Kumho Museum of Art
Hyesoo Park has communicated visually the collective conscious and unconscious underlying our society and the memories and values that individuals have lost in their lives and everyday living. To give visual forms to these memories and values, the artist collects clues for her works in many different ways: the scrupulous observation and constant recording of others or her surroundings; surveys; and the collection of various people’s articles through online advertisements. The resulting artistic outputs are presented in diverse forms such as drawing, video, installation, archive, publication, and performance.
Under the inspirational influence of the film, Wonderful Life (1988), since 2005, the artist collected the lost memories of individuals in the project, What’s Missing? (2008–), after which Park started to make full use of surveys in the making of her works. Park has also harvested in a variety of ways the unconscious and values underlying our lives: Ask Your Scent (2008) is a project in which a perfumer makes a personal perfume for each visitor; in project Dialogue (2008–), she collects dialogues of others in public places to which the answers, analyses, and advice of experts from various fields are added. Moreover, the results of her collecting are translated into diverse forms: publications; a new form of installation work accompanied by the participation of a fortune-teller and a psychiatrist in project Dialogue Vol. 1: Dream Dust (Kumho Museum of Art, 2011); and A Drift in the Dream (2011), an experimental theatre with the participation of a dancer. Collaborating with professionals from other areas such as theatre, literature, dance, and psychiatry, Park reconstructs the confessions of numerous individuals and groups.
For the past decade, the artist has looked into subjects such as the “deserted dream” or a “demanded normality” and divulged together with us as both the co-makers of
the exhibition and the audience the dreams and values that individuals have lost while conforming to the ideas and norms that families or social communities request or impose. Park’s works enable us to awaken to what we do not perceive and thus overlook, criticize the paranoiac and selective nature of our point of view and thinking, and sometimes console our minds fatigued by the propositions of the systems and groups of our society that we are obliged to obey.
Perfect Family INC_2019
In the Korea Artist Prize 2019 exhibition, Park speaks of the collective “we” and the background of project Dialogue Vol. 4. While her previous projects questioned the values that individuals abandoned in the desire to belong to the collective, or the “normal” or “ordinary” that the collective entity compelled them to comply with, this project attempts to define what kind of “we/us (group)” is valid to each individual and to diagnose where the “we” of Korean society are headed as the society is strongly inclined to various cronyisms including nepotism, school cronyism, and regional cronyism. It also starts with a survey on various publics’ thoughts on “we/us,” and the results of the survey and their statistical analysis are transfigured into an installation work and an archive shown at the gallery. Also, seminars and discussions by professionals from diverse fields such as psychiatrists, anthropologists, and economists are to be held to share with the viewers the process of discovering “the ‘we’ that we do not know.”
What makes project Dialogue Vol. 4 worthy of one’s continuous attention is, unlike previous works, the fact that it concretely implicates the directional orientation of this project’s output and the node between this and the following project. In this exhibition, the artist provides a glimpse of Perfect Family (2019)—which Park plans to continue to develop in the future—and includes narratives of the “family rental” business for one person-households, which is increasing rapidly. In Perfect Family, the artist proposes a new alternative “URI (we),” and viewers can look forward to a healthy community of “URI” of the near future suggested by the artist.
As examined so far, Park allows our thoughts to be redirected to the individual and the collective, life and dream, the intangible and the tangible, language and image, and a multitude of memories and values that are meaningful in our lives. The intangible languages expressed by the individuals and groups in her works tell stories about the artist herself, and at the same time those about all of “us” The artist makes viewers actively engage in the process of her work on the one hand, and on the other involves herself in the lives of the viewers. As if they were plays where there is no beginning or ending and where all of us become performers since no boundary exists between the audience and the stage. For the past twenty years or so, the artist Hyesoo Park has been carrying out the most fundamental and most difficult definitions and functions that contemporary art is supposed to fulfill, not through superficial or pretentious gestures but through her own daily life and creative endeavors.
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