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The 13th SongEun ArtAward Exhibition
 2013. 12. 19 - 2014. 2. 15

Grand Prize
Hyesoo Park

Excellence Prize
Hyelim Cha
Suki Seokyeong Kang
Jieun Kim

The SongEun ArtAward was established in 2001 to support and award Korean contemporary artists through a fair and transparent evaluation process every year. To date, this award is one of the most influential art prizes domestically and is recognized for discovering new talents. After the 10th ArtAwards, from 2011 the SongEun ArtAward was greatly modified with the purpose of better supporting and promoting emerging Korean artists. Under the new selection process, only four artists are selected on the shortlist and each finalist is equally awarded the same cash prize. 

This year close to 500 persons applied for this open competition and we are very proud to announce Hyelim Cha, Suki Seokyung Kang, Jieun Kim and Hyesoo Park for the 13th SongEun ArtAward shortlist.

Each artist is showing a body of works in one of the four exhibition spaces and before the end of the group exhibition, one artist will be selected as the Grand Prize Winner and given the opportunity for a solo exhibition within 2 years at the SongEun ArtSpace. 

Review of the SongEun ArtAward

Shan Lim
Art Critic / Assistant Professor, Department of Curatorial Studies and Art Management, Dongduk Women's University

As a judge of the 2013 Songeun ArtAward, I was able to witness the young artists of today challenging reality, equipped with a wide variety of expressive methods of plastic art. To them, reality is as much an incomplete environment that exists to justify the efforts to find hidden art, as it is a stimulating and provocative world that continues to make them doubt the consistent faith they may have of their individual artistic realms. Moreover, the challenge in itself is a way for them to reconfirm the kind of social effects artistic actions may have, when trying to actualize understandings of such a reality. Given that, the works of the four finalists of this year’s Award cannot stand in for a stochastic identity of sorts, like the tag feature of blogs. The expanse of their imagination has amply stirred up contemporary practices of interpreting reality that are not confined to inertial laws.

In March of 2013, a total of 503 portfolios were received for the preliminary review of the 2013 SongEun ArtAward, all of which I am sure were meticulously prepared by the applicants. I would like to extend words of encouragement to all applying candidates, as I am certain opportunities offered through the Award process will serve as building blocks in strengthening the will and aspirations deeply rooted within yourselves. From the initial pool, 34 artists were selected and asked to submit a new work, which was displayed and evaluated in a special exhibition space closed to the public. Faced with the physicality of the display space itself, artists were met with the challenge of situating their work with those of other artists, as a communal exhibit area poses limitations on constructing personalized show space. Having said this, an artist practicing self-expression through the medium of visual arts should have a few tricks up their sleeves in captivating and keeping an audience interested in the story they want to tell, should they be given the opportunity to showcase it. And it appears most of the participants of this year’s Award seem to have work cut out for them as storytellers. Their stories speak of the journey of existence, told through the process of diligent research, physical labor, critical introspection, an intricate system of fabrication, etc. But unfortunately in some cases, in vain of the pride and the effort put into its creation, the story remained confined within the set language of a medium, or bungled by failing to create a voice compelling enough by overloading the story, which instead wore out listeners. Borrowing from the words of Walter Benjamin, a story born of a piece must go through complete combustion to be reborn into another story and another life, and thus return it to the piece it came from. For this, artists must be willing to fuse experience and knowledge into a complete whole within their work. It is my hope that artists find the expressive language that can aptly articulate the condensed manifestation of their cultural and social truth, so that they may be able to possess the wisdom and modesty necessary to vividly single out the most important element from the traces of their imagination.

After the second and main jury process, the four finalists selected are Hyelim Cha, Suki Seokyeong Kang, Jieun Kim, and Hyesoo Park. The four artists selected are given the opportunity to display a body of work in separate exhibition spaces. For the final jury selection, the judges are able to not only assess the artistic strength of each piece but also take note of the internal intentions of each artist that can be felt from the exhibit space or from the juxtaposing of works, being made inevitably aware of the visual logic of the exhibition setup. The brochures and interview videos of each artist provided by SongEun ArtSpace adds linguistic value to the display experience. Such is the practice of the general exhibit world to try and look beyond the innate definitions of an artistic work, and add to it the breadth of the artistic background and experience of the artist; unveiling if need be if the work consists all but the superficial pretence of an artist.

A varying haze of meaning lingers throughout the gallery showcasing works of the four finalists, and purposely overlapping these meanings may be a refreshing way to take in the art. Rich with potential, the acceleration fuelled by the sentiments and passion of these young artists brings down the spatial boundaries that separate their work. The sentiment or belief implied in all four displayed works shows each artist’s experimental wilfulness to diagnose the shortcomings of reality and transform that into poetic or unusual works of creation. Kang’s attitude towards the objets d’art may originate from various personal experiences, but she breaks down the finitude and individuality of both the objects and herself by replacing them with a distorted sense of balance. Her work comes to us much like an image of a modern man’s ritual praying for a new home for the soul, forcing us to re-evaluate the surface of time. Having long contemplated about the views and consciousness hidden between a city’s history and its everyday experience, Kim takes a direct and simple route of expression that discloses her idiosyncratic, remarkably attentive, and epistemological journey. In Parks exhibit space, viewers are met with a new universe created with language and symbols. Her attempts to attribute core values to a somewhat general act of questioning the meanings of familiar concepts can be a paradoxical metaphor about the state of reality created by a lucid world. Cha takes a character created to spearhead a narrative of her painting and recreates it to lead another narrative, and during this process discards the fundamental relationship-making structure of drawing. Through this, she intends to give herself, the artist, the duty not of repetition and appreciation but of cross-examination and originality. From these four artists, I was able to feel the refreshing young courage necessary to set out on a journey in search of artistic capabilities and achievements, as well as intensive self-scrutiny. Dear all participating artists of the 13th SongEun ArtAward, through this completion, I urge you to take the time and revisit your inner, ideological psyche necessary to meet the colorful challenges the world presents to you.  
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