Seminar II - Sohyun Ahn
The second seminar of the DOOSAN Curator Workshop was conducted by Sohyun Ahn, the director at Art Space Pool, focusing on her exhibition methodology and case studies from her curatorial practice. In particular, this lecture focused on the trial and errors that inevitably accompanied the strategies of overcoming the physical and institutional difficulties and imitations of the time, which were not so evident in the exhibitions as a final outcome.
Among the cases presented by Ahn in the seminar, the exhibition The Sea will not Sink (2019), held most recently in commemoration of the 5th year of the sinking of MV Sewol, shed light on sensitive issues still being dealt with today. It was important not to draw any quick and final conclusions on such an ongoing case, but still keep close to the issue. Therefore, much thought went into ways of dealing with such a dramatic incident as the sinking of MV Sewol while constructing it through an artistic language. In this process, works of excessive representation were screened out, and works which were selected oddly reminded us of the memories of looking at the ocean within the curatorial frame, while having no direct relevance to the incident.
Salt of the Jungle (2017) was an exhibition celebrating the 25 years of diplomatic ties between Korea and Vietnam. Ahn explained that the challenge of this exhibition lied in having to organize an exhibition censored by a socialist nation, despite her will to promote the cultural exchanges between the two countries. She talked about the process of coming up with the strategies to overcome this challenge, and demonstrated how the method of utterance of an exhibition can sometimes be determined and controlled by external forces.
Degenerate Art (2016) parodied the exhibition form organized by the Nazi Party in order to publicly criticize and oppress the avantgarde art in 1937. It was an interesting example which demonstrated how display can organize the meaning of the exhibition. Other examples focused on the major examples of Ahn’s curatorial practice at Art Space Pool, such as solo exhibitions including Hong Jin-hwon’s Random Forest (2018) and Sanghee Song’s The Story of Byeongangsoe 2015 In Search of the Others (2015).
It was impressive to see how Ahn organized the exhibitions by sensitively ruminating on the effective mechanisms that clearly visualize her own perspective on the political aspect of art even in the process of overcoming the realistic limitations and challenges that inevitably accompany curating an exhibition. Another opinion shared in the seminar was that, while the form and methodology of the exhibition must be selected with flexibility in accordance with the personality and content of the work, the curatorial practice must also function as a creative territory intrinsic to the curator.