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Korean art of Sung Hwan Kim at The Tate Modern Tanks.
David Franchi – 24th September 2012
“is complex and it leaves a bit baffled, but therefore is interesting”
An exhibition of Sung Hwan Kim has been opened at The Tanks, Tate Modern. The Korean artist presents the first specially commissioned installation in The Tanks, Tate Modern’s new galleries permanently dedicated to performance and film.
Sung Hwan Kim is known for his interdisciplinary work, incorporating installation, video, performance, music, light and drawing. In his works he mingles personal history, fantasy, rumour, politics and culture. This Tate Modern commissioned exhibition was conceived to respond to the unique architecture of The Tanks which is an intense space made of thick concrete walls with dark corners.
One of Tate Modern’s former oil tanks has been divided into two highly atmospheric rooms by Sung Hwan Kim, where light and screened images bounce off mirrors, reflective material and walls. Both contain architectural stage-sets that act as platforms for four of the artist’s films.
In the smaller of the two rooms we see “From the Commanding Heights…” (2007), a film which intersperses a story set within the renowned South Korean Hyundai apartment complex in Seoul with that of a rumoured affair between a famous Korean actress and a dictator, illustrated and narrated by Sung Hwan Kim with pen and acetate.
In the second room we see a further three films – “Dog Video” (2006), “Washing Brain and
Corn” (2010), and “Temper Clay” (2012) – each presented within distinct and carefully constructed spaces, in a sort of puzzling network made of platforms, mirrors and videos. The first film, “Dog Video”, appears as some sort of weird competition between masked men, but it is addressed to Kim’s father. While the second film, “Washing Brain and Corn”, is the very strong story of a brain transplant or a metaphor of South Korean political story.
The third one, “Temper Clay”, is focused on Kim’s parent’s situation, but it is interesting also for the soundtrack. Music is a crucial element of the work of Sung Hwan Kim whose long-term collaboration with musician and composer David Michael DiGregorio is also significant. DiGregorio records and performs under the name dogr, and his music and image appear in each video. Music and sound, particularly dogr’s wide ranging vocals, are used to establish a distinctive mood and pace within the films.
The Sung Hwan Kim exhibition at The Tanks, Tate Modern, is complex and it leaves a bit baffled, but therefore is interesting.
Sung Hwan Kim was born in 1975 in Seoul, South Korea, and lives and works in New York. He initially studied architecture at Seoul National University, followed by a BA in Mathematics and Art, Williams College, Williamstown (2000), followed by a MSc in Visual Studies at MIT and a residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam (2004–5). Recent solo exhibitions include “Line Wall”, Kunsthalle Basel (2011); “From the Commanding Heights”, Queens Museum, New York (2011); “Golden Times”, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany, (2010) and “Witte de With”, Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (2009).
His performances and stories take slightly different versions of variation through improvisation just like fairy tales, myths, magic, lies, history, or sometimes fact are often told through variation such as exaggeration, deletion, intonation, rhythm, texture of voice, and usage of timbre. The artist integrates video and performance playing the multiple roles as director, editor, performer, composer, narrator, and poet.
Sung Hwan Kim’s commission is part of Art in Action, a 15-week festival of film and performance. The exhibition is supported by Sotheby’s.
From 18th July until 28th October 2012.
At Tate Modern, Southbank, London.