DOOSAN Gallery New York presents Youngzoo IM’s solo exhibition titled Aedong, from March 7 to April 13, 2019. IM has collected and documented stories and scenes of urban legends, superstitions, pseudo-sciences and pseudo-religions spread throughout society, and has realized them through various mediums such as video, painting, installations, and publications. Through an experiment of installation, Aedong presents a new combination of IM’s past works illuminating the various facets of the formation of belief system. Also, by presenting IM’s recent works, Aedong invites the viewers to imagine what future directions IM’s work may take.
Aedong1) (2015 – 2018) is the title of a work by IM, as well as the title of this exhibition. Aedong serves as a focal point that encompasses the subject matters and themes explored in IM’s recent works in diverse mediums, such as Rock and Fairy (2016), a video piece on superstitions and beliefs around rocks, and the publication Odd Rock Force (2016). The video has a simple and repetitive structure: the image of the Chotdaebawi Rock [a candlestick-shaped rock] in Donghae-si -- the representative sunrise spot in Korea – is zoomed in and out every 3 minutes for the duration of 30 minutes. Since repetition is the structure that generates belief in IM’s work, many of the subject matters reappear in the works that can be seen and heard in the exhibition space. In this exhibition, Aedong is mounted at the entrance of the gallery, being installed on the middle of the wall reminiscent of a monument. This is juxtaposed with the subject matters related to belief (Chotdaebawi Rock, light, quartz, meteorite), creating a suggestive effect. IM, who has a long-time hobby of viewing rocks, says that using the Chotdaebawi Rock as a subject of work resulted from her interest in the bizarre scenes made by the tourists who visit it, rather than the rock itself. IM noticed that most of the tourists took enlarged shots of the Chotdaebawi Rock, positioning it at the center of photographs, rather than capturing the whole scene; which can be compared to the way iconized images are consumed, being detached from the context.
Youngzoo IM’s representative work, Princess Yoseok (2018), was created by reappropriating the historical records of Princess Yoseok and the Venerable Master Wonhyo in Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms), a book containing various stories including ancient Korean history, folktales, and records about Buddhism. A new narrative is created through the use of contemporary stories floating around the web, revolving around the love story of the two characters. The video presents carefully coordinated visualization, focusing on the power of sound — how it instigates people’s actions in situations where they come to have beliefs. The video begins with the subtitles “one day, I started to hear the faint sound of bells inside my ears” presumably narrated by Princess Yoseok, and the person considered to be Wonhyo takes on a journey to train the divine ear.2) The fragments of metaphors and symbolic scenes inserted throughout the video continue to be connected to one another, and question the beliefs underlying in the stories.
The paintings and rocks displayed together in the exhibition space reconstruct scenes in IM’s video works. While the paintings feature the subject matters such as mountains, rocks, and water, that equally appear in the videos, the paintings portray things that the camera could not capture. Each work maintains its independence while simultaneously creating a symbiotic relationship with one another, allowing the audiences to navigate through the works with their own imaginations. Painted on a dark background, the subdued brushstrokes in the paintings allude to mysterious forms. Upon close observation of The Bottom_Mountain Mountain (2016-2017), one can notice a round magnet used to identify meteorites is attached to the canvas like stars, as if the canvas is giving off strong auras. Video Message: On Your Opposite Side (2019), which is screened intermittently from a screen placed among the model rocks, is presented in a form of an unexpectedly delivered message to an unprepared receiver, amplifying the viewers’ curiosity.
Aedong addresses the sources and circumstances of belief widely shared among members of society. The effects used in these situations, and other stories generated in turn accordingly appear in various forms throughout IM’s work. Aedong will provide an opportunity to examine from various perspectives the work of Youngzoo IM, who keeps on her explorations of belief.
1) Aedong: A word coined by the artist, focusing on the fact that the South Korean anthem is called “aegukga,” which literally translates to “the song of the love for the nation,” having “ae” meaning love. Additionally, the artist considers the way the Chotdaebawi Rock and the South Korean anthem are consumed is fetishistic and pornographic -– “Aedong” is appropriated from the Korean word “yadong” [porn films].
2)The divine ear (Dibba-sota): As one of the six divine powers in Buddhism that is considered to be possessed by Buddha or Bodhisattva, the one possessing divine ear has a superhuman power to hear sounds of distant places.
Youngzoo IM (b.1982) received her B.F.A and M.F.A. in Painting from Hongik University. IM has held solo exhibitions at DOOSAN Gallery (2018, Seoul, Korea) SANSUMUNWHA (2017, Seoul, Korea), Space O’NewWall (2016, Seoul, Korea), The Book Society (2016, Seoul, Korea), L’espace 71 (2014, Seoul, Korea), Space Sun+ (2014, Seoul, Korea) and Gallery DOS (2013, Seoul, Korea). Her works in group exhibitions have been presented at venues including Busan Biennale (2018, Busan, Korea), Seoul Museum of Art Nam Seoul (2018, Seoul, Korea), SFMOMA (2018, San Francisco, CA, USA), Cecil Theater (2018, Seoul, Korea), Platform-L (2018, Seoul, Korea), INSA ART SPACE (2018, Seoul, Korea), The Scrap (2017, Seoul, Korea), Art Space Pool (2017, Seoul, Korea), Hapjungjigu (2017, Seoul, Korea), KF Gallery (2017, Seoul, Korea), DOOSAN Gallery Seoul (2017, Seoul, Korea), Kumho Museum of Art (2016, Seoul, Korea). IM was the selected artist for the 2017 DOOSAN Art LAB exhibition series.