Seoul – a city synonymous to modern-day technological advancement is the epicentre of Asia’s booming cultural and artistic production. The latest addition, Platform-L Contemporary Art Centre (Platform-L), aims to pioneer a new dimension to the already cutting-edge and electrifying art scene. Designed by Joho’s architecture’s Lee Jeong-hoon, the new and shiny seven-storey building opened its door to the public for the first time on 12 May 2016. Under the direction of contemporary art maven native to the country, Mr. Manu Park, the art centre serves as a breeding ground for global cultural exchange, research initiatives, and innovation in all genres of art.
Housing an important collection of contemporary art, Platform-L puts on regular exhibitions by Korean and international artists, as well as public engagement programmes that seek to better the communication of art, its creators and the general audience. To inaugurate the walls and floors of the art centre, two solo shows are currently being held on site: Yang Fudong, The Coloured Sky: New Women II, and Bae Young-whan, Pagus Avium. Both exhibitions are scheduled to run from 12 May through to 7 August 2016.
Chinese artist Yang Fudong (b. 1971 in Beijing, China) presents his five-channel film The Coloured Sky: New Women II (2014) at the centre. Sequel to his 2013 work New Women, Yang diverges from his usual commentary on the nature of society of present-day China to an exploration of what Platform-L calls the ‘aesthetics of existence’. The film explores themes of conventional and often criticised female gender roles imposed on young women and their dreams to become models and movie stars. Non-realistic and conceptual in its sets and location, Yang transports spectators to an almost imaginary space of childhood fantasies accompanied by animal figurines in order to articulate a surreal state of being from the perspective of an archeologist of the human state of mind.
Yang Fudong, The Coloured Sky: New Women II, 2014. Image courtesy the artist.
Known for his acuity in manipulating different mediums to express his own idiosyncratic perspectives, the South Korean artist, Bae Young-whan (b. 1967 in Seoul, South Korea) puts on a show that both references and transgresses his previous artistic trajectory. Pagus Avium can be translated literally from Latin to mean ‘village of birds’, which is aptly descriptive of this common theme for Bae. However, if one is to give a rather semantic translation to the title of the show, the definition may perhaps bring about a significance of isolation. We see a parrot, blindfolded, balancing itself on what seems to be a measuring scale or a sundial in Bae’s newly commissioned work Speech Thought Meaning (2016). Surrounded by distorted forms of globes, this work resembles an allegorical representation of Lady Justice (Iustitia). The pillar of megaphones in Babel-1 (2016) seems to be the 2.0 version of the Tower of Babel from the Book of Genesis. Perhaps a household name, the aetiological myth from the Old Testament explains the origins of different languages.
Bae Young-Whan, Speech Thought Meaning, 2016
In Bae’s tower of Babel-1, spectators are confounded by the blaring sounds of news broadcasts in languages of the world layered upon one another – a veritable microcosm of the information age we inhabit. Abstract Verb – Can you Remember? (2016) is Bae’s four-channel video installation featuring a woman in a feathered costume dancing to a choreography of primitive and ritualistic movements. At the same time evoking a kind of linguistics in movements like the bird of paradise and its mating dance, and alluding possibly to the Rorschach test against a white background, Abstract Verb – Can you Remember? creates a surrealist universe wherein the boundary between ego and object ceases to exist. Pagus Avium is a double metaphor for modern human condition and the abstract domain where the conceived boundaries are blurred.
Platform-L Contemporary Art Centre promises to bring engaging exhibition and educational programmes of diverse genres including design, architecture, performance and film to the community of Seoul. One can be sure to expect more unmissable shows in the future.