The Korean Cultural Centre UK is present ing a new exhibition titled ‘Twin Town’. The show is of new artwork by Korean and European artists. Minae Kim and Phyllida Barlow, with guest Jenny Dunseath. Jiho Won and Tariq Alvi. Chanmin Park and Erasmus Schrö ter. Twin Town is made up of three ‘pairs’ of artists, bringing together a Korean artist with a European counterpart.
These pairs (one of which includes a guest) are based on lines of practice; sculpture, installation and photography. This approach deliberately veers away from making an exhibition easily tick-boxed as a Korean art show and instead opts to show art by artists from Korea alongside art by artists from the UK and Germany. In this way Twin Town also acknowledges the wider fact that contemporary artists from all sides of the world can be found working next to one another. Curatorial concerns are less about collaboration and more about ideas of influence and change.
The exhibition plays with the idea of a twin; a lost, known or rival sibling, together at birth but divided by time. South Korea let’s not forget has a twin, of which few know anything about. Twin Town is the title because what influences and changes us is both familiar and strange, a twin encounter. The participating artists and their artworks for the exhibition, Jiho Won and Tariq Alvi. Jiho Won is commonly known for his constructed flag sculptures. Won’s ‘flag for no nation’ is a conceptual work that suggests a utopian place, which is a general flag for everyone. Won’s construction of his flag sculptures are critical by design, the ‘flag’ is made of many parts like a scaffold referring to the mass of individuals that make up a nation, the flag shape questions the idea of nation and nationality rather than representing it. They are flags only in shape as in spirit they are anti-flag.
Alvi’s simple collages using mass-produced food and furniture catalogues visualise consumerist culture as an aesthetic. A good and enduring example are his ‘pricing’ collages where the pound or dollar sign is collaged endlessly next to their countless neighbours to make a sea of prices that grow like oil slicks. Won and Alvi share a common ability to take ubiquitous signs and turn them back on themselves, opening up space for us to see the way we buy into ideas and consume not only things but a complete aesthetic.
Chanmin Park and Erasmus Schrö her, Chanmin Park’s Blocks series show the faceless large tower blocks that dwarf their surroundings. Radical urbanisation of Korea since the 1970s had triggered Park’s interest in universal housing systems. Concealed apartments and tower blocks show the isolation and disconnection within society.
Erasmus Schröter has photographed the latest of extreme fashions to be found in Germany. Schröter, a former East German recognises through his imagery a naïve and worrying nostalgia for uniforms and extremes of social positioning in his portraits of ‘Goth’s’. Incidentally some of whom mix oriental styles with Western uniforms. Park and Schröter, although markedly different in terms of content nevertheless share a melancholia
Minae Kim and Phyllida Barlow, with guest Jenny Dunseath, Minae Kim has made sculptures that quietly measure and subverts the buildings they occupy. She is concerned with how we approach the places we live in and our accepted habitat. Phyllida Barlow has been making sculpture that confronts the viewers with their own excess of material and mental clutter for the last four decades. Barlow represented by the Hauser and Wirth Gallery is a master at showing us a tangible representation of our material lives.
Dunseath, as the interruption of the “twin” oscillates between the two poles of perfection and obstacle explored in the work of Kim and Barlow – the incompleteness of her work opening up another possibility for matter and genre: if it’s not sculpture, nor structure, nor architecture, nor monument, then what is it? Perhaps we can talk about the “unfinished” as a style or genre of its own, a gesture that hints at all the others without ever becoming any one of them.
Twin Town : Korean Cultural Centre UK, Grand Buildings, 1-3 Strand, London WC2N 5BW
Exhibition Dates: 18 September 2012 – 24 October 2012. Opening Times: Mon-Fri: 10am-6pm Sat. 11am-5pm Closed Sunday