Crazy, sexy, ghoul Apr 02 2013
It would be hard to dispute that a large part of the history of art has been written by the French. The nation boasts a wealth of innovative and era-defining artists, such as impressionist pioneers Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir post-work maverick Marcel Duchamp.

It remains to be seen whether the young French artists featured at the SongEun Art Space will eventually contribute their own part to the shaping of contemporary art. The southern Seoul gallery is currently displaying the works of 12 of the country’s up-and-coming artists in an exhibition entitled "France in SongEun: The French Haunted House."

French independent curator Gael Charbau, the associate curator of this exhibit, said he wanted this exhibit to be unfamiliar and mysterious, rather than being too profound and serious.

"I thought of this exhibition as an imaginary movie, which would be completed by the interpretation of spectators," Charbau said. ''Please think of each hall of the gallery as a room of a haunted house."

The works on display certainly require viewers to stretch their imagination.

Upon entering the gallery, visitors encounter a black grand piano creating unexpected noises without a player, which is Stephane Vigny’s "La Charbau." Elsa Sahal's ceramic works "Altar" is related to the theme of ghosts wandering in the haunted house.

Paint spots on the upper part of the wall on the third floor of the gallery might look like smudges, but those are actually Jonathan Binet's "As Far as Possible."

Next to Elenore Saintagnan's "Le Cercle," is a video about middle school students and a haunted house, a door to a small back room leads to a computer. The screensaver on the monitor has a photo slideshow running, but it stops when a viewer touches the keyboard or mouse. Visitors might wonder if they are allowed in the room or it is an office of the gallery. Guillaume Constantin wanted the viewers to renew their perspectives on daily life through "Everyday Ghosts 2013, since 2008" as if a ghost has occupied the computer.

Julien Salaud’s taxidermy series come off as whimsical and creepy at the same time as his creations are imaginary animals, including a bird sprouting from the head of a deer.

Neil Beloufa's "Tectonic-Charbau Seoul" invites viewers to a multisensory space. Sound is triggered by the vibration of a paper in the center of the room and amplified through a speaker. Something seems to be happening here, only that nothing really is.

The viewers are once again asked to be confounded when meeting Emmanuel Lagarrigue’s “We are not prepared, this is the great fault, we are not prepared to the shake of things.” Visitors can come in and out of lightings while listening to a voice reading some text. The lights and moving visitors remind of shadows at sunset.

Theo Mercier’s “The Invisible Family,” statues of a four-member family covered in white fabrics, could summarize the theme of the exhibit ― a haunted house.

The exhibition runs through June 8 and admission is free. For more information, visit www.songeunartspace.org or call (02)3448-0100.

Other French artists' ongoing exhibitions or soon coming in Korea are ― conceptual artist Sophie Calle's "Ou et Quand?" at 313 Art Project through April 20; photographer Georges Rousse exhibit at Hangaram Museum of Seoul Arts Center from April 15 to May 25; and Didier Mencoboni's "Playing with Colors" at Shinsegae Gallery through April 22.

By Kwon Mee-yoo

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