Sometimes it takes one to know one, and with the arts, we can sometimes miss a message or direction unless we have a trained eye. This was taken to the extreme in Korea, when fellow artist Lee Wan discovered a package containing 1,400 photographs of artistic and historical relevance, documenting Korean culture over a period of many years.
Anonymous photographer named Mr. K. has captured moments from the political climate as well as personal touches and situations which simply enrich the understanding of this Eastern culture. Socio-political archives are rare in such numbers and quality, and the manner in which they were discovered adds another tantalising layer of adventure to the collection.
The Korean Pavilion at the Venice Biennale will be host to the fabulous photography from the 13th of May until the 26th of November. Opening the photo album for the world to see in such a public gathering is perhaps exactly what was intended for this superb historical resource.
The Korean culture has recently turned to photography in a big way, choosing the media to represent many aspects of society within the art scene. According to Photography Professor Hoon Jung from Keimyung University, students from other paths and doctrines are adding the camera to their artistic arsenal.
As Zoe Chun of Kukje Gallery in Seoul says, “many artists who use photography as a medium actually use a variety of tools” (ArtNews) which leads the perception of photography to hang somewhere between the newspaper and birdwatchers. The fact that it is a much more comprehensive art form which is used within larger exhibits perhaps leads the subject to less notoriety than other more well known media.
Korean photography is slowly diffusing into the main world art scene, with New York recently showing a few, as well as a museum in Switzerland. The Korean art scene perhaps is a little slow on the uptake and as international interest brews slowly, the nation itself is still a new comer when it comes to exhibiting the material. With a new culture being born from the ashes of the old, things like art perhaps are not in the front of people's minds.
With tensions from the North side of the border continually affecting the way people live their lives,and with the cultural reflections of these tensions manifesting in all aspects of life, the South Korean view of the world is unique and worth exploring.
Take a Seat, but not that one.
A demonstration of ludicrously designed chairs is filling the standing area in an Australian exhibition aimed at poking the finger at cheap imitation replicas. According to the artists showcasing their personal takes on the issue at the National Gallery of Victoria, the government there doesn't recognise the artist copyrights when it comes to basic design elements.
This results in hard working well trained designers having their ideas copied in lesser quality products which adversely affects the common perception of their work. It also lines the pockets of creatively dry individuals who simply cherry pick from the real talent.
26 designers in total have put forward their ideas of what has been termed “brutalised” furniture. None of these creations are designed for actual sitting, the point being made in the presentation of what's wrong with it.
The copycat industry is causing a lot of problems for designers and artists, as ideas and perspectives often translate directly across sectors. It's clear that when something is apparent, visually or materially, then some kind of intellectual property is there. Finding the laws to define this in a fair manner is tricky, and it does seem that at least in Australia, there's still some work to do.
I wonder if it's all a bit much, though? Chairs are chairs, and there's only so many ways of making them. Can anyone really own a design for something based on such a traditional and likely pre-historical concept? I wonder if Ben Sherman would ever own the rights to shirts? Meaning others would need to discover new ways of fastening material to our midrif.
It's definitely a grey area, and if something has been worked hard on and made exactly right through time and effort, and with an added sprinkle of creative flare, is it right to allow others to make poor quality mirror images? Probably not, if you ask me.
Having said this, the method of putting the message out there does seem attractive. And, as far as I can tell, it has worked to some degree. I am sure that as long as we don't touch chairs, we are all pretty much okay to do something similar. It's only fair.
The Institute of Arab and Islamic Art in New York opens with a stunning collection including the works from four women. Saudi national Dana Awartani and Iranian Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian make hot topics for the Manhattan based centre for minority culture. This venue is however temporary, and it is hoped that this event will bring awareness to the need for a permanent residence in the city.
Founding chairman Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al-Thani of Quatar has said he wishes to “showcase the breadth of art and culture from the Arab and Islamic world..and challenge stereotypes and misconceptions” (The Art Newspaper)
Awartani has recently had work exhibited in the Saudi 21,39 festival of contemporary art drawing on traditional Islamic motifs with the use of sand. Farmanfarmaian however is better known for geometric and reflective pieces.
Within the 2,500 sq. foot art space, the demonstration of rich eastern culture hopes to send a clear message to the concepts behind the recent travel bans implemented by President Trump. Being in one of the key cities of American heritage, New York stands to be the breeding ground for the cultural revolution necessary to close the doors of racism once more. Sheikh Al-Thani may not be the next Dr. King Jr. but it's certain that what happens in New York won't stay in New York.
The show starts on the 4th of May and its at 3 Howard Street in lower Manhattan.
Art can sometimes be about delivering the unexpected, or playing on assumptions we subconsciously make each moment. By noticing little human quirks and understanding the dynamics of surprise, very interesting demonstrations can take place. The Dallas Art Fair recently sported two live mannequins wearing Roberto Cavalli as greeters to the queues of culture lovers who attended the preview gala event.
Because the city itself doesn't stand out as a centre of artistic relevance, competing with other American names such as San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, it takes a lot to do something that turns heads. So they figured that turning heads where heads don't usually turn is exactly the sort of thing that would get people talking.
The massive Northpark superstore in Dallas provided the exhibitionist props in a move to link art and clothing together. Fashion is of course an art form, and there are many ways of expressing ourselves through the medium of clothing.
The art fair was proud to be showcasing ninety-five art dealers with a 40% international base, making it a truly multicultural event, proud to give American soil over to the promotion of cultural relations and group solidarity for the ninth consecutive annual event.
Among buyers at the fair were several institutions of local importance such as the Dallas Museum of Art which has its own program of acquisition for the art fair. Traditional political messages were toned down this year, as an oil rich republican state, Texas usually does attract art of this manner at its events but it seemed particular effort had been made to reduce it this time. Perhaps tensions are still fairly high after such a divisive election and it was wise to keep things in the comfort zone.
Art Bubble Bursts with a Pop
“To be creative is to be accepting, but it's also to be harsh on one's self. You don't just paint colors for the silliness of it all” - James Rosenquist
The Pop Art Movement was born in the middle of the 20th Century. It was a direct reflection of the consumerist world that was growing from its previously seeded roots, and as media and product design is often a game of mirrors, so was the desire to show materialism for what it was. Perhaps ghastly, unnatural, and bland, perhaps perfectly aligned and exquisitely simple, what was given back to the world in the form of pop art was a mixture of everything, fused into one giant movement.
Rosenquist, who recently died on 31st March 2017, rose to artistic fame during the 1960s in which he produced two solo exhibitions for The Green Gallery, New York, and followed with a display of his popular F-111 in 1965 which projected the artist into international acclaim.
Other players in the scene were names such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, who have produced famous works of art involving celebrity, product merchandising, and comic book style. Throwing the rule book back at the designers through the minds of unaffected artists made a mark on the scene in the way that it put a bit of accountability into the hands of the consumer market. Being aware that artists will represent you perhaps is one method for keeping the moral implications of business in check.
Thankfully the Pop Art Movement is still alive and kicking, and although its pioneers are disappearing into the history books, the modern era has plenty to choose from in ways to represent society in all its outlandish ways.
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