- Last Updated on Thursday, 12 July 2012 12:24
As exhibition titles go, few beat 4482 in its simplicity and directness of content. This year's harvest of young Korean artistic talent, based mostly in London, marks the fifth so far and, as before, its diversity and latent power seldom fail to impress, writes Sajid Rizvi. Most works in the show are for sale.
4482 (Korean: Sasapari) refers, of course, to the umbilical link the telephone provides to the many thousands of Koreans who've made Britain their home, mostly for now. Many years ago, on my first visit to Seoul, I waited by the hotel telephone for more than an hour to get connected to what used to be home then. Today, smartphones transport and transform nearly half the world of the user, perhaps more, and are not just an indispensable accessory but almost the ultimate source of everyday succour in myriad ways.
The dialling code for (south) Korea, 82, is probably the only constant that survives over the years the telephone has linked the two lands and who knows for how long. What country code will a united Korea use? Will the code become yet another ideological battleground between the resurgent south and the niggling north? We shall have to see. Certainly food for artistic contemplation and possibly some creative expression there.
Unbeknownst to millions of Londoners, Korean artists in the British capital are very active indeed, refreshingly creative and remarkably productive. If more people don't know what they do it is because there's so much to see but also because they thrive -- quite gainfully, too -- somewhere between the mainstream and the periphery.
Should more Korean artists shock and awe, 'become more mainstrean' or more 'Asian' -- or occasionally eat babies or inscribe calligraphies with organic waste? An entirely different discussion, it seems.
Living in the shadow of an overarching British culture, amidst the great maelstrom of contemporary art practice of searing intensity and vast scale does not appear to intimidate the doggedly inquisitive Korean artist. Admittedly that is neither a stereotype nor the rule of thumb. Many Korean artists are simply not doggedly inquisitive, nor are they productive in a way that will fit a pattern. After all, they are human, and each has every right to be unique. But the regular yearly outpouring of creative energy that is glimpsed at 4482, and other shows besides, throughout the year, indicates London illuminates, informs, inspires, irritates then seduces and bends minds in the community of artists in about the same way as it does in other dynamic parts of its transient citizenry.
This year we are promised representation of work from more than 60 Korean artists. The curators from the participating group have attached to 4482: Sasapari the sub-title 'Map the Korea' -- yes, with that definite article in the middle.
Mapping, we are told, "emphasises performative and continuous multiple layers of process and movement, rather than merely conventional concepts of mapping such as tracing and reproducing." But THE Korea? The key to our question may lie, perhaps, in the fact that the artists want us to see, here in London, the mother of all world capitals, a most definitive Korea of the mind, the one that resides here and now in the fertile, restless, energizing collective imagination of individuals who have come together as a team.
The exhibition presents five themes: Object, Site, Time, Subjectivity and Method. The idea of including Method as one of the pillars of the exhibition apparently is intended to provide the artists with the opportunity to discuss concepts in contemporary art and share with us their take on the basic elements of mapping.
It's understandable that artists today, especially those in a group show such as this, want the inherent diversity of the exercise to flow alongside the contemporaneity of their work. As transient Londoners they've had experiences, encounters and everyday compromises that few longtime Londoners will have any clues about.
London's oldtimers, both of the well-clued-in and of the jaded variety, of course, would love to know what these aliens, as the Americans would call them, thought of their city, country and ways of doing, saying, thinking, or not doing any or all of the aforementioned. What better way to articulate all of that than through art?
Artists [using painting, sculpture, photography, installation, performance and video]
Seokyeong Kang, Eemyun Kang, Rae Koo, Soon-Hak Kwon, Jukhee Kwon, Ga Ram Kim, Dong Yoon Kim, Minae Kim, SangHyun Kim, Shinwook Kim, Jieum Kim, Chinwook Kim, HaYoung Kim, Kyounghee Noh, Sean Roh, Jung Yun, Roh, Sejin Moon, Kyunghee Park, Kye Jung Park, Yeojoo Park, Je Baak, Jinhee Park, Chanmin Park, Chan-Hyo Bae, Seung Ah Paik, Mikyung Son, Kiwoun Shin, Fay Shin, Suk An, Jinkyun Ahn, Yoojung Oh, Min-jung Woo, Beomsik Won, Seoyeoung Won, Jiho Won, HyesooYou, Suokwon Yoon, Sungfeel Yun, Jungu Yoon, Jiwon Yun, Dokyung Lee, Minjung Lee, Sunju Lee, Eunkyung Lee, Jungwoo Lee (Locco), SoYoung Jung, Sooim Jeong, Woon Zung, Yun-Kyung Jeong, Jihyun Jeong, Joy Jo, Haeree Cho, Haeyun Cho, Joohee Chun, Anna Choi, Yoonsuk Choi, Eun Sook Choi, Eun Ju Choi, Kaneumiah Choi, Shan Hur, Sookyoung Huh, JungPyo Hong, HeeRyung Hong, Ilsu Hwang
MAP THE KOREA: The 5th Annual Exhibition of 4482 [SASAPARI]. 23–26 February 2012, 11am-6pm. OXO Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London SE1 9PH. The exhibition is held under the auspices of the Korean Cultural Centre UK. Website: www.4482.info