KOREA TOMORROW 2017

Dates / Opening hours / Venue

Where is Tomorrow, Today?

KIM Geumhee, President of Korea Tomorrow

2017 is a bump year for art with much to celebrate. A year rich with historically meaningful art events, including Art Basel, Venice Biennale, Kassel documenta, and Sculpture Projects Münster. Korea looked forward to a similarly festive ambiance in the wake of 2016′s candlelight vigils, sprouting hopes of a more tranquil state of affairs. Dishearteningly, 2016′s inner turmoil was replaced by diplomatic challenges in 2017, including the constant nuclear threat from the North, and retaliatory sanctions from China for THAAD, both of which have kept the domestic market volatile. Amidst the greater current of political and social forces, Korea Tomorrow faces its ninth iteration this year.

Korea Tomorrow began as an effort to propel Korean art toward broader horizons, to reach a wider global audience and market. Through combined efforts of creators, buyers, and stakeholders, Korea Tomorrow set afoot to explore new directions for Korea’s contemporary art market. I look back to the humble first exhibition in 2009, and to subsequent iterations perusing through details, wondering if greater effort, or anything else, could have served the exhibition better. I ask

myself if the fortunate absence of mishaps have caused us to become complacent. This year is a good year as any to glimpse back, check our bearing, readjust and raise our gaze upon new horizons.

Every year, Korea Tomorrow is planned anew for an original perspective, but through the years, growth-seeking has been a consistent burden, and we cannot ignore the possibility that it may have been an obstacle to establishing a firm identity of our own.

Nonetheless, I can proudly say that although Korea Tomorrow is an annual event, it is far from a plainly iterative, customary affair. We commit fully to delivering our best possible exhibition, and put on hold any questions of reciprocations. While there is a season for everything, this is a season for further undertaking; to sow, to till, and to wait in patience. 

Every year, we invite and introduce a new roster of Korean artists, from the new and budding to well accomplished names, to spotlight their own unique potential. And every year, we face the challenge and wanting results of capturing and documenting the exhibition, repackaging it as meaningful information and sharing it with the global market. For that purpose, the task at hand for art critics is crucial, second only to the creators themselves, not in the least for the meaningful sharing of art, but the healthy development and expansion of the art ecosystem as a whole. I am pleased and grateful to announce that after years in the making, Korea Tomorrow has finally taken successful steps to publishing texts that simultaneously feature artists and their critics, through the help of a business that saw eye to eye with us. What could be more meaningful for this publication project than for its pages to reach prominent art institutions and school outside Korea, drawing meaningful interest in Korean art? October this year, Korea Tomorrow was invited to Swiss to present artists’ works from earlier Korea Tomorrow exhibitions. It was an affirmation and a first concrete foothold for our ambition of reaching a global market.

This year, the exhibition was planned around the theme of Narrative Landscape, exploring the lesser known aspects of Korean art that the world may find appealing. We are grateful for Professor YOUN Bummo and his willingness to oversee the planning of Korea Tomorrow 2017. We also thank each and every artist participating with the greatest of sincerity. It is all you make who the past 9 years of hard work worthwhile.

We are gratefully indebted to the Sungkok Art Museum for allowing us an amazing venue, in addition to all the care and support they have shown. Finally, we also thank the new and returning visitors for your interest, support, and love. Korea Tomorrow is yet a nascent exhibition. We ask for your continued support and interest as we move forward one year at a time; overcoming challenges and doing better what we do best. 

 

‘Grass’ and ‘Wind’

HONG Somi, Executive General of Korea Tomorrow

Fully appreciating a landscape requires a greater physical distance than usual. A distance from which one sees the forest over the trees, the coursing river and great waterfall over the drops of water that form them, and the relationships between groups of people over one individual. Obtaining this minimum distance from which a complete landscape takes form requires that we stand back and look. Such a landscape, as an accumulation of stories reflecting a continued consciousness throughout time, further surpasses the locations of a particular period and thus requires a kind of “time” beyond the usual. Finally we need psychological distance to obtain the “estrangement effect” that assumes a critical stance independent of any particular place, moment, or person. 

As we were planning Korea Tomorrow’s ninth exhibition, Narrative Landscape, we kept those three keywords of place, time, and people in. We also sought to imagine not only the landscapes in the spotlight at the center of those axes but also the vague landscapes on the dark peripheries, corners, and boundaries of this space. Naturally, those vague landscapes became of interest. This may be because the scent of the tears and sweat issuing from the struggles of the people inhabiting those vague, peripheral landscapes is all the closer to the truth.

This kind of landscape created at the intersection of space, time, and people is what we call “reality.” The reality formed at the juncture of these three axes becomes the attitude with which we produce events, thought, tragedy, and drama. Throughout history, art has played the role of holding up a mirror to reality or shining a light into its dark, disregarded corners. Resisting and critiquing reality is art’s raison d’être. Like the description of the relationship between wind and grass in the late poet Kim Su-young’s final poem, “Grass”, art repeatedly rises and falls in response to the winds of its time. Through the flexible resistance it develops through this process, like the “dancing grass” art does not break, but sublimates into a sort of dance. The analogy of “grass” and “wind” described by Kim symbolizes the history of humanity as it discovers life within resistance.

Thus the exhibition Narrative Landscapes looks back on the “gestures (dance) of grass itself” that we had not seen due to the social and political relationship between the grass and wind, and seeks to discover the characteristic aesthetic within it. We sought to create an exhibition that reconsiders the form in which art, with its inherently resistant spirit, has developed its own aesthetic, and which observes the course of realism as it expands into the future. However, we know well that the above-described three axes are too complicated of an explanation for truth and reality, and that in that context Kim’s analogy of grass and wind is not clearly implied. It is now time to pursue a meaningful aesthetics of resistance that offers a universal call surpassing time, borders, and political demands for participation in reality. We seek to put historical meaning behind us and place our hope in today’s landscapes produced by people moving forward one step at a time for the future. That is the meaningful landscape that art can produce within a cold reality.