Suki Seokyeong Kang: Black Mat Oriole

When 27 Apr 2018 - 12 Aug 2018
Where Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA)
118 S. 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
Enquiry (215) 898-7108

Opening April 27, 2018 the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA) will debut Seoul-based artist Suki Seokyeong Kang’s ambitious project Black Mat Oriole (2017). A culmination of five years of research and production by the artist, the exhibition is conceived as an installation that brings together sculpture, painting, and video to engage viewers with the power and politics of space.

Jeongganbothe historical form of Korean musical notation that utilizes a grid and extends to poetry and choreography—functions as the conceptual framework of her current practice. The jeongganbo grid was created concurrently with Korea’s alphabet in the 15th century, which is itself based on the gridded movement of the tongue within the mouth. It is this movement of flesh within a geometric space—of speaking tongues, grasping hands, and choreographed figures—that drives Kang’s work.

While Kang’s expanded painting practice is rooted in her research into classical Korean poetry, craft, and dance, her concerns are firmly articulated in the present. This body of work references the historical Korean solo dance Chunaengmu, which was performed for royalty and adhered to strict codes of court etiquette. With this in mind, Kang explores how a space can be divided into grids whether with regard to systems of power, cultural customs, or artistic lineage. These issues are also addressed through sculptures that reflect the weight and tangibility of objects and through hwamunseok—traditional Korean mats handwoven with reeds—that when brought together gesture to how bodies might move through a choreographed space.

Like the Chunaengmu dance, the movements of the performers in Kang’s videos are carefully scripted. For Kang, freedom is always already inscribed within a set of cultural and political limitations. The black mat is, in her words, “the minimal space each individual in this society is provided with, upon which to stand and sustain one’s weight.” Black Mat Oriole sustains this tension. Freedom is implied but restricted, a condition amplified given the current geopolitical climate.

Suki Seokyeong Kang: Black Mat Oriole is curated by ICA’s Alex Klein, Dorothy and Stephen R. Weber (CHE ’60) Curator and Kate Kraczon, Laporte Associate Curator.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring essays by the curators, an essay by scholar Yongwoo Lee, and an interview between the artist and Maria Lind, Director of Tensta Konsthall, Sweden. The publication is designed by Seoul-based design studio Sulki & Min.

Support for this exhibition has been provided by Barbara B. & Theodore R. Aronson, David & Pamela Toub Berkman, Julie & Larry Bernstein, Tina Kim Gallery, Kirk Kirkpatrick, Norma & Lawrence Reichlin, Lori & John Reinsberg, Allison & Neil Rubler, B.Z. & Michael H. Schwartz, Brett & Daniel Sundheim, and Susan Weiler. Additional production support was provided by Arts Council Korea.

Photo courtesy of the organizer/s.

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