The World of Change: The Journey of Artistic Empathy and Exploration

Laura Braverman [Former Curatorial Assistant of the Museum of Modern Art]

Working as a juror for the first edition of the CHUNMAN ART for YOUNG was a wonderful experience. I am very grateful to the entire team for inviting me and giving me the precious opportunity to spend time looking at and thinking about the work of so many talented young Korean artists.

The portfolios of the shortlisted applicants that I had the pleasure to review displayed a wide array of different practices. Firstly, the artists expressed themselves in a broad range of media: from painting, sculpture, and works on paper to photography installation, performance, and digital art. Although they explored a variety of different ideas, it was interesting to note several recurrent areas of investigation. Many artists, for instance, were concerned with the instability of structures and the shifting nature of elements, seeking to create new situations or realities so as to propose alternative epistemologies. Several others were keen to examine the boundaries separating the physical from the virtual world via new technologies and artificial intelligence. And a third important trend touched upon generational worries related to societal, economic, or ecological questions.

While in Seoul, I had the chance to meet twelve of these artists over two days to discuss their work. Despite their being at different stages of their studies and careers, I was impressed by how carefully thought through their practices were, both from an aesthetic and theoretical point of view. The artists were all eager to engage in fruitful exchanges in order to refine some of their existing ideas and think about new directions for their practices. In addition, several of them were curious about how their works would be received outside of Korea, expressing concerns about the limits of cross-cultural resonance in the case of context-specific topicalities. Overall, I was stunned by the participants' ambition perceptiveness, and spirit of inquiry.

As a result, selecting the finalists was no easy task but after sharing our thoughts and notes, Kelly Long, Jung Yunah, and I designated the artists whom we believe stood out based on the well-roundedness and potential of their practices. As third prize winners, we selected Kwak Jisu and Song Seokwoo. An installation artist whose work explores the complexity of human relationships, Kwak poignantly translates the paradoxes inherent to communication through sculptural and performative means. Song's work looks into similar questions about belonging, but on a broader, societal level. We were struck by his masterful performative photographic series Wandering, Wondering #6, in which young men stand in coordinated positions in vast isolated spaces-a perplexing attempt at finding one's place in a structured society.

For the second prize, we singled out the works of Choi Jaehyuk and Noh Okyoung. Inscribing itself in the tradition of documentary photography, Choi's series about the "Terrapin people (Twixter)" consists of powerful portraits of young adults in their cramped student rooms juxtaposed to nightscapes depicting the neighborhoods they live in. Both Kelly Long and I were enthusiastic about Choi's preliminary thoughts regarding installation possibilities for this not-yet-exhibited series and look forward to see how they will be carried out. In a similar vein, I was impressed by the careful execution of Noh's works. Informed by her experience in art education, she invites audiences to participate in and interact with her installations, performances, and discussion-based workshops in order to reflect on questions of immigration, identity, language, and value creation. Through strong multi-media visual language and a discerning awareness of her role in generating these experiences, Noh skillfully creates spaces where complex ideas and feelings can be addressed. 

[...] Over its thirty-year history of providing the scholarships, it is thrilling that the Samchully Group has now extended its philanthropic activities with the annual CHUNMAN ART for YOUNG prize, As an independently organized prize open to all currently-enrolled Korean art students, it will help to honor and promote their outstanding achievements. Recognition is especially important in the early phases of one's artistic career and it is my hope that. with this prize, a new generation of artists will be encouraged to continue pursuing their own creative and intellectual paths.

변화의 세계: 예술적 공감과 탐색의 여정

로라 브레이버만 [뉴욕 현대미술관 전 큐레토리얼 어시스턴트]

제1회 CHUNMAN ART for YOUNG 공모의 심사위원을 맡은 것은 멋진 경험이었다. 나를 초청해 여러 재능 있는 젊은 한국 작가들의 작품을 직접 보고 그에 대해 생각할 수 있는 귀중한 기회를 준 CHUNMAN ART for YOUNG 팀 모두에게 깊은 감사를 전한다. 놀라웠다. 내가 살펴본 2차 심사에 오른 포트폴리오는 다양한 작업을 아울렀다. 먼저 작가 들은 회화, 조각, 드로잉부터 사진, 설치, 퍼포먼스, 디지털아트에 이르기까지 여러 매체를 통해 스스로를 표현하고 있었다. 작가마다 자신의 작품을 통해 아이디어에 대한 예술적 탐색 진행하고 있었음에도 불구하고, 반복적으로 나타나는 주제가 몇 가지 있다는 점이 흥미로웠다. 예를 들어 다수의 작가가 구조의 불안정성과 요소들 의 변화하는 본질에 대한 우려를 드러내며 대안적 인식론을 제안하기 위해 새로운 상황이나 현실을 만들고자 했다. 또 다른 작가들은 신기술과 인공지능을 통해 물리적 세계와 가상 세계의 경계를 살피고자 했다. 세번째로 눈에 된 중요한 예술적 경향은 사회적, 경제적 또는 생태학적 문제에 대한 세대적 우려의 표현이었다.

서울에 머무는 동안 이틀에 걸쳐 12명의 작가를 만나 그들의 작품에 대해 논의 하는 시간을 가졌다. 학업이나 커리어 단계에 있어 작가마다 위치가 달랐음에도 불구하고 미적으로나 이론적으로나 각자의 작업에 얼마나 많은 고민을 쏟아부었는지를 보고 감명받았다. 기존에 보유하고 있던 아이디어를 다듬고 작업의 새로운 방향 을 모색하고자 모든 작가가 풍성한 교류에 열심히 참여하려 했다. 그뿐만 아니라 몇몇은 본인의 작업이 해외에서는 어떻게 평가받을지 궁금해하며 특정 맥락과 연결된 시사 문제를 다루는 작품이 여러 문화권에서 공감을 얻을 수 있을지 그 한계에 대한 우려를 표하기도 했다. 전반적으로 참여 작가들에게 볼 수 있었던 포부, 통찰력 그리 고 탐구 정신이 상당히 놀라웠다.

공모에 참여한 모두가 훌륭한 작업을 선보였기에 수상자 선정은 결코 쉽지 않았다. 하지만 켈리 롱(Kelly Long] 휘트니 미술관 큐레이터, 정윤아 크리스티 홍콩 부사장과 서로의 의견 및 메모를 교환한 결과, 우리는 작업의 전반격인 조화와 가능 성을 바탕으로 특히 두드러진다고 평가한 작가들을 최종 선정했다.


조심스럽게 풀어낸 노오경의 작업 역시 비슷한 맥락에서 놀라웠다. 노오경은 예술 교육에 대한 자신의 경험을 바탕으로 이민, 정체성, 언어 가치 창출에 대한 이슈를 다루기 위해 관람객이 자신의 설치물, 퍼포먼스, 토론 위주 워크숍에 참여하고 상호작용하도록 초청한다. 작가는 강력한 멀티미디어 시각 언어와 이런 경험의 생성에 있어 본인이 맡은 역할에 대한 분명한 인식을 통해 복합적인 개념과 감정이 표현될 수 있는 공간을 능숙히 만들어 낸다.