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Yiso Bahc’s Children and Their Grammar
Yiso Bahc’s Children is the name that refers to the artists who the late Bahc had taught at the couple of schools right before his passing. It also refers to the artists who shown clear resemblance and influence from the artist. Would it be a shame or complement to be called such a name? One thing for sure is that the art of Bahc Yiso made significant influence on the art of Jin Shiu. Consequently, the name of Yiso Bahc has always been lingering around Shiu Jin when his position in arts needs to be defined and/or the process of it. I do not know much about Yiso Bahc but I do not think he is someone would voluntarily point an artist to be his student. So it makes more meaningful to call some artists Bahc Yiso’s Children because they are voluntary orphan of Bahc out of their admiration toward him. 
Below is the quote from Yiso Bahc’s artist statement in the foreword written by Hunyee Jung. Bahc stated the objective of his work, “We Are Happy,” as follows: 
“I want to show everyone a massive, but disturbing message of hope that happiness does exist somewhere, while giving a fleeting view of the general yearning for happiness, the discouragement caused by seeing so much unhappiness, the meeting points and overlapping and fissures between the values and misunderstandings of happiness itself among the viewers.” 
Shiu Jin titled his upcoming solo exhibition as “Cryptanalysis.” This seems to show another connection between the two artists. Yiso Park’s work always made me to think twice because the titles of his works were both ambiguous and too obvious at the same time.  The language of Shiu Jin also has same characteristics of Yiso Bahc as they are mysterious and leads us to the train of thoughts of the artist. Thus when I heard the title, Cryptanalysis, it immediately drew my attention to what    kind of cryptic stories will he present this time and how would Jin’s logics be structured. Ziyi Zang who wrote an article for his last solo exhibition once described the difficulties of reading Jin Shiu’s work like this: 
“Reading Jin Shiu’s work is excitingly fun as if I am breaking a code within an uncanny topographic map with chaos and fractal structure.  As complicated as the process of decoding is, it gives us the cool moment of great pleasure as if a cool breeze ‘rises’ in somewhere of cerebral association center in sinciout and you suddenly get epiphany.” 
However, there do exists difference between these two artists in the choice of subject matters. If social issues take up the main area of Yiso Bahc’s interests, in Shiu Jin’s case shows consistent interest in what art is itself. In the last solo exhibition, for example, Jin dealt with the boundary of the definition when it comes to art objects. This exhibition, Jin puts its emphasis on the grammar of an art art making. He announced in his artist statement that he would like to reflect his position in defining art as methods for communication with others.  In the premise that a code or grammar is the way of combining visual elements and symbolic meaning system that the elements imply, the artist pledges that he will contemplate the process of decoding them. I still remember the moment from time to time when I first saw Yiso Bah’s “Your Bright Future,” and sympathized the artist’s intention to “give a fleeting view.’  This made me more gladly wait the moment of communication to decode Jin’s art in this exhibition hoping that now I can finally find out Jin’s work and his own way of thinking. 
For the Satisfaction of Speculation 
Bahc’s aforementioned “giving a fleeting view of the meeting points and overlapping and fissures between the values and misunderstandings” cunningly states his mechanism of articulation. Without misunderstanding, there would be less fun; without room for misinterpretation, there would be no relief; and without deception there would be no his famous ambiguous usage of words as in, I quote, ‘to show everyone a massive, but disturbing message of hope that happiness does exist somewhere.’  The instant that one meaning in an artwork crosses one’s mind comes flashily while the audience is speculating the meaning of the works. For the audience, Jin’s audience in particular, it marks the very moment that the satisfaction of speculation is fulfilled.  No, it is rather a euphoric moment that his audience feels that s/he decoded the artist’s intention. However, reading his work is not exactly a dart game that needs to hit the bull’s eye. The pleasure of reading art and the pleasure of speculating artist’s intention belong to audience’s own, audience only. And it should be audience’s own because the boastful moment of decoding the relics only signals the beginning of the failure of the artists.  In this sense, Jin’s work can be described as detective game in which the audience chases the artist and the artist is being chased.  Like you are in CSI: Seoul, ha ha ha. The audience voluntarily gets caught in the artist’s visual traps and the artist leaves only the right amount of clues in the images and texts in his work to make sure the audience keeps chasing him. The clues should not be too clear, simple or obscure. It also shall not be so complex that it takes too long time for audience to figure out. Last thing to do is to bore his audience. Furthermore, the subject shall not be trivial enough to cause disappointment when was solved. It is evident that speculation is the key to reading his art from the “Birth Stone” that bluntly to put in the center of the exhibition hall depicting a monstrous birth.  As engraved on this symbolic stone of the monstrous birth is “For the Satisfaction of Speculation,” it only confesses that endless trail of thoughts are the origin of his art. 
For the satisfaction of speculation and to figure out the visual clues, the audience should be ready.  It will be helpful to be familiar with current art discourses. If the person already read an art history book, the pleasure of speculation will be doubled. One should not miss the spatial layout of the art work. Then again, the artist future reveals even the nuance of his clue in the work: 
O! From this time forth, my thought be bloody or be nothing worth. 
Let’s go back to Yiso Bahc’s “Your Bright Future.” It is an installation piece that is composed of approximately 9 to 10 very bright lights illuminating empty wall of a gallery. Since each light fixture was holding brighter than 500 watt bulb, the message of the work can be simply interpreted as, literally, your bright future. Maybe he was mocking the government’s propaganda of luminous development through industrialization if we refer to the symbolic meaning of raw scantling from the construction site that he used for the structure holding the lights. Or maybe he is questioning us, “Is your future as bright as it is?” 
This pleasure of detecting the meaning of an art work and its process of speculation might be the reason that Shiu Jin got his name as one of Yiso Bahc’s Children. In the last solo exhibition by Shiu Jin, ‘Unidentified Fine-Art Objects,’ introduced was a white round object, “Starship.” It first appears to be one of the minimalists’. It can be said a big top. But if you read the caption sticked to the wall next to the work, you can find that the material he used are the empty bowls for Jazangmen, pickle, and Sweet and Sour Pork waiting to be picked up by the delivery guy to be returned to the Chinese restaurant. It actually was the different sized bowls laid on top of another and wrapped around with white elastic vinyl.  A photograph work documented “Starship” was titled as “Untitled (From China).” From the minimal look of the piece, one can conclude the theme of the work is pursuit of beauty itself using primal elements. But is hard to pass the bowl that stands for 4,000 KRW worth Jazangme, such a moderate food. There might not be much option for poor artists to serve his guest except have Chinese delivered. And if  you are the one of the people who knows no one can guarantee when will comes the time for the artist to get out of such condition, the level of sympathy would grow.What is notable in terms of the context of that show, the artist defined his piece as ‘unidentified’ fine-art object when he salvaged jazangmen bowl to the rank of fine-art object. 
Star SIGN 
If you go to Brain Factory first one that greets you is the work, “SIGN,” made of five florescent lights hanging clumsily scattered in the air. However, as you are passing by the work and reach one point, you will realize that the light tube is perfectly formed a shape of a star. And the this star is one of his Fine-Art Objects waiting to be discovered by those who will willing play the game of speculation. 
Star has so many meanings. It is an object of worship, guiding light in a dark night without moon in the sky. Well, of course there is not neon sign anyway. Yiso Bahc also made work with stars. In his Bookdopalsung (Big Dipper with one additional 8th star), the additional star was meant to himself. After Bahc Yiso’s passing, Shiu Jin created a piece homaging Yiso Bahc. In the video entitle, I Am Missing the One Star, Jin removed the eighth light fixtures from the lighht track with dark background. And now he created yet another star shaped installation for his second solo exhibition. 
Consider the first piece you see from the exhibition entitled, “Monstrous Birth” is a star… 2008 years ago, it is said that someone once put a star in the sky to herald his birth. No matter the person is a figure respected for centuries or an unrecognized artist, there got to be a birth for every one. Then this star might be announcing a birth of an artist’s birth. Or the collection of element that constitutes a star-artist such as Yiso Bahc who no one detest his status of star- artist status. Although the star in the gallery is not hung as high as the one in the sky, this artificial florescent star radiating light deserves our respect if not the awe. Would this work was meant to present conditions of star- artist status?  A story of a star’s birth is always complemented with a behind story of unusual circumstance allowing the star-artist to be valid.   And this show, in part, gives you the behind story of an artist. 
Using mundane objects without much modification is common characteristics found in the works by the Arte Povera artists. And let’s say that Yoso Bahc’s “Your Bright Future” is based on the esthetics of Arte Povera that persuade to narrow the gaps between art and life by utilizing the social implication innate in the materials for their works.  Then another interpretation, or speculation, is available; it is his sarcastic way of saying as if he is advocating the government’s propaganda that the scantlings, iron rod, and lights illuminating construction sites make possible ever growing metropolis in the name of development, modernization and industrialization.  In order to reflect the development mentioned above, he had use the materials such as scantlings, iron rod, and construction lights that symbolize such notions. Shiu Jin also uses cement, florescent lights to form the works in the exhibition. While the use of such materials fits the characteristics of Arte Povera, the context and cause are found in Jin’s not to mention that the materials can not be more suitable choice to express his message. 
If Yiso Bahc dealt with issues encompassing society in general, Shiu Jin’s “SIGN” and “Birth Stone” only extends its limit of relevance to the unknown artist in Korean art field. The artist might have chosen florescent light for its tendency that lights up only after blinking several times to it as a metaphor of himself who is not tactful enough when it comes to the matter of worldly affairs. He once mentioned florescent light is a material that blinks when it reaches beyond its capacity.  One must see a florescent light is the cheapest material lighting up moderate, unknown artist’s studio. A florescent light is such a contrastingly moderate and simple material to the norms of our time as necessity for artists; proven value of excellency and high class.  In order his work to be fit in to the description of Arte Povera, it is only natural for him to use objects that has close tie with real life, the object implicates the political meanings. The reason for “Birth Stone” being made up of cement, a pseudo stone material instead of gemstone is in lieu of the same logic.  Everyone is entitled to one gem as his/her birthstone, but the birthstone of the artists in the show by Shiu Jin is not one of the gemstones. 
Behind Story 
We have established the fact that exhibition is titled, “Cryptanalysis” which constitutes with “Birth Stone” situated between “Monstrous Birth” and “Parents-es” after heralded by a star “Sign.”  Now we are beginning to wonder what makes this birth so monstrous? And what is real behind story going on behind the scene?  If you look at “Monstrous Birth” we can find a boy on a boat and drifting away. This blurred image of birth includes a four-year old boy instead of a baby.  Did he descend from somewhere instead of being born? 
Shiu Jin stated that he created a fake stone to make it his birthstone based on his life being an adoptee and begin to be recorded from the age of four.   Considering that this show is not autobiography, let’s say that this boy is a child-master descended from nowhere like a comet to the Korea art scene.   Then… 
Today, this child-master has grown up and became an artist. After the many years of hard training in the deep deep mountain, he is following “The Path” on which he is ready for the duel as an artist. The duel is the ultimate risk that his thought being bloody or nothing worth. 

By Hyunjin Shin / First Curator of Ssamziespace

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