Young In Hong, This is Not Graffiti, painting, embroidery, 16 February – 24 March 2013

Trained as a sculptor, Young In Hong sees her embroidered works rather like three-dimensional constructions than paintings. In the work A girl with a Slogan (2012), Hong unites the image of anonymous graffiti photographed on the street with the image of a young girl she found on the internet. The girl is holding up a sign saying “mi-chin-so anmeo- geol-lae (I am not going to eat a mad cow)” during one of the biggest anti-government protests in 2008. She rebels against the controversial Free Trade Agreement between South Korea and USA, in which South Korea agreed to import US beef possibly infected with mad cow disease. The act of sewing allows Hong to visualise and materialise her thought process and the synchronised body movement of the sewing illustrates the time-consuming process. Sewing has been a major industry in Korea, China and Taiwan, still dominated by female workers who are paid minimal wages. At the same time, sewing is an important aspect of modernity.

One of the crucial concerns of Hong’s art is her careful observation of certain aspects of society. In one of her early site-specific projects in Seoul, I will commit crime forever and a day (2004), her view of the difference between what is morally correct and what is legally permitted was expressed in a satirical way. She stole flowerpots from streets, cafes and parks and installed them in front of a police station. The installation seduced the passers-by and transformed the symbolism of the police station from an extension of cold authority to something appealing and welcoming.

Young In Hong’s interest in rearranging the hierarchical order of the world is visible in site-specific projects such as The Curtain (2001), The Pillar (2002), Open Theatre (2004) and The Performing City (2005). In the public art project Miners’ Orange (2009), around five hundred people wearing orange garments paraded without any slogan, theme or purpose in the small exmining town Gohan-Sabuk in South Korea. The government had recently established a casino business in this town, and the purpose of the parade was to question the impact this transition had on the villagers’ lives and how they looked upon themselves. In Miners’ Orange, Hong made the complexity of Gohan-Sabuk’s identity visible through an act of collective performance.

Young In Hong has participated in numerous exhibitions in Asia, Europe and the US. Her selected institutional and museum shows include Playtime (2012), Culture Station Seoul 284, Seoul, South Korea, City Rituals: Gestures (2012), Art Club 1563, Seoul, South Korea, Korean Eye: Energy and Matter (2011), MAD, New York, USA, Korean Eye: Fantastic Ordinary (2010), Saatchi Gallery, London, UK, Another Masterpiece, New Acquisitions (2008), Gyeonggi MOMA, Korea, Good Morning, Mr. Nam June Paik (2008), Korean Cultural Centre, London, UK, Incheon Women Artists’ Biennale (2007), Incheon Culture and Arts Centre, Korea, Particules Libres (2007), Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France.

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