Welcome to the ‘French Haunted House’ Mar 18 2013
Young French artists and curator invited to hold exhibition in Seoul

A strange noise comes from the hall, traces of footsteps are marked on a wall and a ghost family covered in white curtains greets visitors.

Those who have visited haunted houses at amusement parks may find some common spooky features of a haunted house at the “French Haunted House,” an exhibition created by a group of French artists and a curator in Seoul.

“While I was (looking for) a theme for the exhibition, I learned about Korea’s shamanism. I did some research and read books and thought it will be the theme that I can adopt to relate to Korean culture,” said Gael Charbau, curator of the exhibition on view at SongEun ArtSpace, at a press conference last week.

The exhibition, sponsored by Institut Francais, the French government-funded institution promoting French culture overseas, introduces promising young artists and curators as part of its efforts to reposition the country as the world’s “superpower” in art.

“France has produced many masters of art, but not notable artists lately. So in order to reemerge as a cultural superpower in contemporary art, they are introducing young artists and curators overseas to have them gain more global experience,” said Yoo Hyoung-jung, chief curator of SongEun ArtSpace.

The exhibition retraces the footsteps of French art and introduces various experimental art by young French artists. It offers a glimpse of how some of the French masters such as Francis Picabia and Marcel Duchamp are influencing young artists.

Each artwork seems to have an element of a ghost film, making the show funny, scary and strange all at once. Viewers can explore the elements freely in the exhibition hall by moving in whichever direction they want.

Stephane Vigny’s unmanned piano playing on its own creates an eerie atmosphere alongside a sound similar to a heavy rock falling.

The exhibition features Theo Mercier’s sculpture of a four-member ghost family, Damien Cadio’s painting featuring a rabbit in a shadow play and teenagers in Eleonore Saintagnan’s 10-minute video.

Saintagnan’s filming took place at a real “haunted house” in the northern region of France and features middle school students whose awkward and scared faces intensify the spooky ambience.

The storyline is formed by Jonathan Binet’s performance-based artwork or Julie Bena’s photographs “Monuments” and Julien Salaud’s stuffed animal specimen.

Binet had his assistant jump onto a stool and touch the top of the wall leaving mysterious marks ― like evidence of someone’s presence.

Emmanuel Lagarrigue’s site-specific installation takes up an entire room, filling it with light and two voices that seem to be engaged in a conversation.

The exhibition runs through June 8 at SongEun ArtSpace in Cheongdam-dong, Seoul. Admission is free. The exhibition is closed on Sundays.

For more information, call (02) 3448-0100.

By Lee Woo-young

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