Search by
2013 POOL PRODUCTION < A House yet Unknown>

Date: MAY 16 – JUNE 28, 2013 
          YONGJU KWON
          YOUNG-GLE KIM
          EUNU LEE
          JOUNGMIN YI

“A house is not a machine to live in. It is the shell of man, his extension, his release, his spiritual emanation.” – Eileen Gray

I have repeated a long term pattern of moving and settling down to become independent (self-supporting, to be precise) from my parents. The irrational state of wandering about with no place to live when there are abundant housings in the world was the reality I was facing, not someone else’s story. While having gone through various forms of living, by sharing rent with a friend who managed to pay the deposit or by sharing the place with several friends, my thoughts on the issue were gradually grouped into two categories. Whom shall I live with, and what kind of house could I live in.
This exhibition titled A House yet Unknown commenced with the personal sigh of “where and with whom shall I live” and it presents views on the desire and nervousness regarding the concept of normative ‘House’ in the current Korean society. Additionally, the meaning of ‘house’ as a base of individual life is expanded, to be perceived as the site of life to place our feet on the ground of reality. Furthermore, in the midst of nervous symptoms regarding current housing problems, the quest is launched for a new place “yet unknown.”

It is needless to say that a house is an element of existence for the pursuit of happiness, possessing a space of one’s own in a society. Particularly in the Korean society, ‘house’ has more to offer to the meaning of a residential space to live one’s life in. The house is a symbol of speculation and capital, thus it has become a platform of conflicts among various desires floating about our society. It is since the development ideology of the 60s and the 70s that real estate capital has become the source and sign of wealth. Additionally, the policy for the recovery of real estate economy based on neo-liberalistic economic logic had rather boosted the house price mostly in the capital area. Thus, the social inequality regarding housing gradually grew more serious than ever. This change implies the transformation of the ‘emotional meaning’ of house as well. The change in the structure of employment such as extreme state of unemployment of the young population and labor flexibility, has and is changing the life pattern of a Korean. Before, the so-called ‘normal’ pattern would be post-university degree awarded with employment and marriage. Now, the period of youth has been prolonged, with many living in one-room apartments and other residence type for single person, such as gosiwon. This trend has threatened the desire for a ‘normative house’, which signifies a self-owned big apartment of a middle class family issued from a heterosexual couple as well as the ‘dream to buy my house’. The society of tenants constantly in the move, through renewal of rent, the landscape of the so-called ‘neo-nomad society’ is in fact the reality with which all generations empathize. However, despite such crisis of norm, the urge to continue or strengthen such norm and the desire for the possession of a bigger and higher priced house are still growing on individual scales. Therefore, the solution for almost all the problems related to housing would be converged to individuals purchasing a ‘better house’. To demolish such solid ‘normative house’, it would be required to reveal expressions of diverse patterns of life, instead of trying to secure a certain identity of the house.

In the context of this exhibition, the ‘House’ is perceived as the place in which is revealed the ‘crisis’ our lives are facing nowadays. The house as special territory does not signify a territorial docking but becomes a critical reality which reflects the instable condition of life related to ‘residing’. Through such process of pondering, the attempt is made to imagine a ‘house’ which is available and necessary to many people. The five artists participating in this exhibition, Jungsuck Kang, Young-gle Kim, Yongju Kwon, Eunu Lee and Joungmin Yi, all share the point of issue which the exhibition suggests and accordingly, they would portray the flexibility of contemporary art in their respective manners. The works including 4 newly created works have integrated materials of daily life to depict various positions of life which collide with reality.
Eunu Lee presents installation work consisting of various forms of windows attached to characteristic structures drawn from floor plans of apartments in diverse sizes, located in the capital area. Through the closure and compartmentalization of ‘window’ which divides indoors and outdoors, this work reveals the universal form of residence of the Korean society, represented by the ‘apartment’ and the desire that it represents, set within the middle-low class, in a concise manner. As the segmentation of ‘the Republic of Apartments’ is expressed in the words of Sunghong Kim, “From the inside you can see the outside but from the outside you can’t see the inside and the entrance to the building is strictly controlled; thus the ‘glass’ has the paradox of transparency, in the sense that it can be the object of desire but cannot be possessed”, it represents the individual desire prone to be shattered due to conventionalization, in this work.

Young-gle Kim views the current residence as the ‘temporary shelter’ related with the irregular pattern of life. In the monodrama In the Fire which will be performed on the opening day of the exhibition, through the narration of a female tenant renewing her rent conditions, wandering about looking for a new home, the general theme lies in contingent employment, part-time work, women and other faces of this era, excluded from the social welfare. The common condition of ‘temporariness’ which connects all these stories does not limit this problem of unstable housing to a generational issue. In this work, the state of being in temporary and irregular circumstances is reality directly issued from the existence of an individual, including housing and work. The narrator cries, “I shall live in the fire!” This message comes from the opposite of the area encroached by capitalism. This cry is the consideration of conferring a new meaning of the value of the house and a firm will.

Joungmin Yi presents Extinction of the Scraps (1), (2), (3) (2010) which is a pictorial reinterpretation of the press photos in part, related to the tragic incident in Yongsan (Yongsan disaster). As a part of the Rooftop Trilogy, this work reveals the irrationalities of the Korean society regarding the problems of redevelopment. The people depicted in this work as having gone up the rooftop to guard their residence base, remind us of the fact that this kind of tragedy and misfortune are not settled but still going on even at this moment. And this sort of position in life makes us think of demolished residential area where people gather to live ‘temporarily’ or demonstration tents. This is not someone else’s story but the reality of all of us which we absolutely need to face when we talk about the theme of ‘house’.

Jungsuck Kang observes the daily lives of urban youngsters through a magnifying glass. In this exhibition, the characters who have understood the irrationality of the residence issue express the moments of struggling in search of the path of life in ritualistic acts. These characters constantly embrace their desire of ‘ideal’ home while being divided and devastated by the impossibility of such an ideal. Facing this situation, they would repeatedly throw away things to reduce their belongings or buy again, performing a sort of ‘ritual’ with a certain resignation toward reality and as a ‘gesture’ of compromise. This reveals the attempt of strengthening oneself to endure life despite failure and betrayal, as well as displaying the multi-layers of life.

Yongju Kwon portrays a landscape of dislocated forms left on the brink of extinction through various daily objects which have been half burnt. These ‘half burnt’ traces which could not even vanish bring upon some sense of loss since they display the reality of the youth being left with no choice, existing outside of the conventional language which compels us to survive no matter what. Furthermore, burning leads to deforming the materiality of plastic objects such as plant pots and baskets which were frequently used in the Korean art scene in the 90s, and by this method, the artist expands the issue of searching for the ‘position’ of a generation, inexistent in the current art world.

Eventually, the ‘House’ in this exhibition is the place where divided desires of the Korean society collide with each other. By reflecting social conflict about housing problems and its contradictions on the house, the discussion would be extended on ‘houses’ which have not yet become a place. Imagining what would be the room we need and revealing the invisible with an acute sensitiveness, would be the ‘position’ that art in the current era should take. I sincerely hope that all these considerations would be a certain trigger to start ample stories about “a house yet unknown”, to recover our lives.
                                                                                                   Eunbi, Jo (Chief Curator, Art Space Pool)

* This exhibition was organized as a means of Vision Paper, the multi-disciplinary curatorial project for the creation of the vision of Art Space Pool curatorship.

* Reference
Min-Woo Jung, A Room of One’s Own: A Sociology of Youth and Housing, Seoul: Imagine Books, 2011
Sunghong Kim, “Window and Door: Paradox of Contemporary Architecture”, Journal of the Architectural Institute of Korea, 48(2), 2004

Quick Page Up