Korean artists go to dOCUMENTA Kassel
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Korean artists Yang Hae-gue, Moon Kyung-won and Jeon Joon-ho have been invited to dOCUMENTA (13), one of the largest contemporary art festivals in the world.
Yang, based in Seoul and Berlin, presents two pieces at Kassel Central Station, as part of the 13th dOCUMENTA that started on Saturday in Kassel, Germany.
Her “Approaching: Choreography Engineered in Never-Past Tense” is installed at the freight terminal. The station has not been in use for years and has opened for dOCUMENTA for the first time in decades.
Yang has set up rows of black blinds over rails and a platform for 45 meters, which move up and down, making a train-like noise. Such movement of the blinds reminds one of a train coming into the station or military marching in a totalitarian state.
The artist said in a statement that she recalled Kassel’s older history as a major transport hub in central Germany and contemplated the “collective memory” of industrialization commonly experienced in modern societies.
Yang also staged “The Malady of Death,” based on Marguerite Duras’ novella at Kassel Central Station on June 7. The artist adapted and directed the novella as a monodrama performed by Jeanne Balibar. The French actress narrated the book and brought it onstage with the idea of a “written voice.” Kukje Gallery, Yang’s agent in Korea, said the work received rave reactions from the audience.
Moon and Jeon’s project “News from Nowhere” is composed of a film, installation and a publication. The project began from imagining a post-apocalyptic world where the human race has been nearly wiped out and is forced to examine the most basic philosophies and the artist duo will present a “retrospective from the future.”
“El Fin Del Mundo,” screened at documenta-Halle, is a 15 minute, split screen film set in the future when the survival of mankind is threatened due to rapid changes in the environment. Actor Lee Jung-jae and actress Lim Soo-jung took the role of artists in different times and space and making their last artworks shown on screen. The actors were invited to the opening of the dOCUMENTA (13) as well.
Installation “Voice of Metanoia” is a collective work of some 10 experts and artists, suggesting a new lifestyle for survivors after the apocalypse. Designer KUHO presented a futuristic costume, while Japanese architect Toyo Ito drew up a plan of an apartment for refugees. Moon and Jeon designed the lighting in cooperation with scientist Jeong Jae-seung and ophthalmologist Chung Sang-moon.
The last part of the duo’s work is a book titled “News from Nowhere,” which records the entire scope of the project as well as derivative discussions and discourses on it.
dOCUMENTA is an art festival held in Kassel, Germany, every five years. It began in 1955 and is at the forefront of contemporary art, exhibiting a variety of works ranging from installation to performance.
Some 150 artists from 55 countries participated in the 13th festival this year including Yang, Moon and Jeon. This is the first time in 20 years for Korean artists to be invited to the international festival, after Paik Nam-june in 1977 and Yook Keun-byung’s participation in 1992.
dOCUMENTA (13) runs through Sept. 16. For more, visit d13.documenta.de.