“This exhibition explores the history of modernization in East Asia through the lens of gender and the agency of tradition. Questioning the canon of the heterosexual male as much as it questions the West, this is also an argument over many boundaries and borders of modernity that are carved into today’s aporia. In particular, in its critical understanding of the problems of the modernization process in Asia, this exhibition investigates how tradition is invented and generated in close relation to modernity, and explores the emancipatory potential of tradition in Asia through a perception of gender complexity that goes beyond the canon of Western modernity.
Constructing a genealogy of queer performance in Korea society, and examining the notion of queering and its aesthetics, for the past ten years siren eun young jung has based her work on yeoseong gukgeuk, a fast waning genre of Korean traditional theater that features only women actors. Jane Jin Kaisen interprets the Bari myth, a story of a daughter who was ousted from her community, as a new potential of escaping the melancholia of diaspora and the liminality of the West’s colonial-modern. Hwayeon Nam explores the work of twentieth-century choreographer and dancer Choi Seung-hee, who embraced a grand ambition fro East Asian dance and constantly collided with modern borders as she generated modern inventions while fighting ideologies and notions of nation. In the work of these three artists – presented in the Korean Pavilion for the 58th Venice Biennale within the exhibition History Has Failed Us, but No Matter – “tradition” serves as a significant medium throughout the process of digging into researching, discovering, rethinking, and finally interrupting the modality of the East Asian modernization that has been in pursuit of Western modernity. ”
– Excerpt from “History Has Failed Us, but No Matter”, Hyunjin Kim