4482: Exhibition of Emerging Korean Artists in London

Date: 16 – 19 October 2008, 10 AM – 6PM
Venue: Bargehouse, OXO Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, London, SE1 9PH

The title of this exhibition was created when a group of Korean students working in New Malden, south of London, hosted an exhibition in their studios two years ago; it sounds like a complicated code, but turns out to be simply a combination of the UK’s national telephone code,44, and that of South Korea, 82. However, despite its simplicity, I believe it sums up the theme of the exhibition very well, as it stems from the feelings of anxiety, strangess or tension that the forty participating artists experienced when they had to dial a long and unfamiliar telephone number to call home when they first arrived in the UK.

In order to understand the works in this exhibition, it would be essential to know about the generation that most of these artists belong to; they are in their late twenties and thirties, the so-called ‘Generation 2030’ in Korea. Unlike the previous generation, which experienced the social and political upheaval at the heart of the division of the country and the movement towards democracy, the 2030 generation has grown up benefiting from the country’s economic growth and development of high technology. But they are not just beneficiaries, because they have also had to face huge competition after the phase of restructuring enforced by the IMF in its efforts to bail out the Korean economy during the Asian financial crisis.

Most importantly of all, they were educated in an environment that offered a diversity of ideologies, giving a wider vision of the world, and these advantages have become a driving force, and added to the confidence of this generation. The slogan they are most familiar with is ‘Globalisation’ ;having been influenced by this development, they are interested in the different issues and problems around the world, and many of Korea’s young people go abroad to challenge the new environment, and to experience a new way of life in a different culture.

They say that a journey to the unknown world leads to an awareness of oneself. Since arriving in the UK, the artists in this exhibition have thought about and considered their identities by reflecting themselves to the British society that they discovered and observed with their fresh vision. Many of them experienced feelings of strangeness, alienation or tension before adapting to British society as strangers; also, as outsiders, they sometimes discovered certain phenomena in British society that insiders might not notice; that is one reason why this exhibition would provide an exchange of views and interesting conversation for both the Korean and British people.
The exhibition will offer a variety of artistic expressions through different media that 40 artists will suggest-painting, sculpture, video, installation and performance. Moreover, this exhibition will ultimately take the vision of the artists of the young generation of Korea to predict the future of the contemporary Korean art scene in the international context. Thus the audience will benefit from a very interesting visual engagement, and from discovering some very innovative, intriguing or beautiful conversations in the language of visual art. In addition, I hope that the exhibition will provide a platform for these artists to develop themselves further in the wider artistic territory

Written by Sunhee Choi (sunhee.lefur@gmail.com)

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