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Exhibit shows possibility of commons through art: Nam June Paik Center celebrates 10 years of artistic exchange

Oct 17,2018
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Singaporean artist Heman Chong’s work “I Want to Believe,” above, a digital image freely distributed on the Internet, and Nam June Paik’s installation “Elephant Cart,” right, are part of the “#Art #Commons #NamJunePaik” show. [NAM JUNE PAIK ART CENTER]
YONGIN, Gyeonggi - Standing tall in the Nam June Paik Art Center is a large screen that shows men and women of all ages on a stage. They are 100 ordinary Gwangju citizens recruited to reflect the city’s demographic composition. They step up one by one to share their experiences and opinions of various social issues. Sometimes, they do a performance portraying daily life in the city in simple forms. Another screen shows a performance of 100 ordinary citizens from Amsterdam in a similar format.

The videos are part of the “100% City” project by Rimini Protokoll, a team of German and Swiss artists. A new exhibition entitled “#Art #Commons #NamJunePaik,” which features works from 13 teams of artists, kicked off last week, to celebrate the museum’s 10th anniversary.

“‘100% City’ shows how the new orders of relations - reciprocal relations - can be built in communities through art, corresponding to the theme of this exhibition ‘Art Commons, Nam June Paik,’” Suh Jinsuk, director of the museum, said. “The theme inherits Paik’s belief that ‘Art is not private property.’”

According to the museum, Paik, in a writing ‘Global Groove and Video Commune’(1970), proposed the concept of “Commons,” by which he meant a video common market where information is actively exchanged and distributed by free video communication.

His ideas were in close relation to the concepts of democratic creation and the usage of the arts pursued by the Fluxus, an international, interdisciplinary community of artists during the 1960s and ‘70s, in which Paik participated.

“At the time, the concepts of Paik and the Fluxus were just visions, yet to be realized,” Suh said. “But now, with technological and social changes, they are reality, as you see collective intelligence on the internet and social media, in the sharing economy and more.”

Another artwork that matches the theme is Korean conceptual artist Ahn Kyuchul’s installation work with the long title “There are things in the world that cannot be spoken in words.” Standing in front of the gigantic, circular white structure, the viewer will hear various aphoristic sentences. And if the viewer speaks or make noises, the structure will amplify the sounds.

The exhibition also includes works by Paik such as the spectacular TV installation “Elephant Cart,” which summarizes the history of media and its future, and works by another important artist in history, Joseph Beuys (1921-1986), who also participated in the Fluxus and was a friend of Paik. In particular, the exhibit includes the collaboration of Paik and Beuys titled “Coyote III,” which is a video of their joint concert.

There is also a work about the “The tragedy of the commons,” a phenomenon that a shared-resource system is used by individuals according to their own self-interest and, as a result, is spoiled, damaging the common good. It is Korean artist Jeoung Jae Choul’s “Another Part of Kraken,” which consists of research and installations of ocean wastes.

The other artists featured in the exhibitoin are Hwayeon Nam, Dappertutto Studio, Bahc Yiso, Blast Theory, Heman Chong, Unmake Lab × Data Union Collective, Okin Collective and Part-time Suite.

BY MOON SO-YOUNG [symoon@joongang.co.kr]



Admission is free. The museum is closed on Mondays. Take bus Nos. 5000 or 5005 from Seoul and get off at the Singal five-way intersection in Yongin.

For details, visit www.njpartcenter.kr or call (031) 201-8571.