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Working for the Future Past
Working for the Future Past
- 2017-12-12 ~ 2018-03-04
- 서소문본관
Attending artists:
Ailton Krenak, Carlos Motta, Carolina Caycedo, Cinthia Marcelle, Eduardo Abaroa, Gala Porras-Kim, Juan Fernando Herrán, La Agencia, La Ene, Laura Huertas Millán, Leon Hirszman, Part-time Suite, Partricia Domínguez, Roberto Jacoby
This exhibition was initiated as a part of the non-Western art project of Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA), and we are pleased to invite artists from the Latin American region. The starting point of this exhibition is the ideological avant-garde art of Latin America, which came into existence against the backdrop of the global rise of political radicalization, which occurred along with the French revolt of May 1968. However, this starting point is not merely a narrative of the particularities of the political events that were, and are still being, recorded in history, nor is it just a statement on the social significance and importance of the avant-garde movement of the time. The reason this exhibition is looking back on the avant-garde movement is to examine the points at which the historical proposition of the avant-garde movement, “integration of art and life”, becomes divided or ignited according changes in the existing social order, and to investigate the aesthetic methods by which art gains its vitality. The vitality of art can only kick into gear when art becomes a cultural and political comment on a society before being simply a beautiful material or practice. Therefore, this exhibition explores the complicated beauty deeply engraved in the sociopolitical context of the colonial modernity collectively experienced by the non-Western world, including Korean.

The various forms of the avant-garde movement triggered by modernization in the non-Western world, become decisive events in the forming of the “identity” of art by elevating the state of local art and its surrounding context to a more active level. In Latin America, the Conceptual avant-garde movement arose in various forms around the 1960s, a development that later became an important standard of measure for understanding “Latin American Conceptual Art”, or “Southern Conceptualism”, which is now well known to us. Meanwhile, Minjung Art in Korea, became combined with the struggle of the people during the turbulent period of the 1980s and sought after various forms of media and art, but is often evaluated as having failed to achieve the ‘universal language of art’ as it did not manage to connect with the Western practices of Conceptual Art. The political and aesthetic experiments of this time in Korea have therefore remained a yet unsolved issue of the regionalism of the time, in which art was practiced under the shadow of the West.

The 14 artists (team) invited to this exhibition, were gathered not because of their geographical status, but because they are conscious about problems related to the postcolonial perspective, subjectivity and the community, having passed through the experience of Western imperialism, cultural hierarchy, hybrid culture, and the history of modernization and dictatorship. Not all of the 30+ pieces of art invited here are direct remarks on this kind of local context. Some of the artists instead pay attention to the ethnographic beauty of “the indigenous people” that might be unfamiliar in the language of contemporary art, as well as the nature and object that are categorized under “culture”, while reflecting on and inquiring into contemporary art from within the world view that existed before the modern era.

Working for the Future Past is not an exhibition aimed towards the simple transmission of information about ‘another’ culture by enumerating the works and the artists of other regions. Instead, it proposes awareness of the real and unavoidable constraints and boundaries within which local art operates as the language of Western modernity and to “Latin America” as a way to cross these boundaries. Rather than a return to the uncertain past or promise of a dreamlike future, our aim is to use this exhibition as a mirror in the hope of finding a more appropriate path here and now. Profound understanding of these works will pave the way for us to enter the communal realm of “global yet regional art”.

* Image use on the Exhibition Poster: Graciela Carnevale locking visitors inside the gallery and then leaving who attended her experience in Argentina, 1968. Courtesy of the Graciela Carnevale Archive.