Sangdon Kim
»The Monument«, 2009
Video, color and b/w, 3:33 min.
Courtesy of the artist

Sangdon Kim

April 08 – May 12, 2011

Invited by Heejin Kim (Director, Art Space Pool, Seoul)

»The Monument« (2009)

»The Monument« by Sangdon Kim (* 1973, lives and works in Seoul) is a part of video triptych with two other video pieces of »Mirror« and »The Truck Mixer«, that again belong to a larger installation piece entitled »Rose Island« (2009). Having the video triptych, photographic series and sculptural objects in its loosely combined environment, »Rose Island« is a gloomy psycho-political portrait of South Korea captured in the symptom of individual restlessness, social self-censorship, interpersonal violence and surveillance, all of which are getting intense by recurring collective traumas of economic constraint, ruthless normalization and military threat in the region.

As one of the post-80s artist group who balances critical insight on the politics, economy and history with de-politicized, market-driven everyday life of the region, Sangdon Kim is the most noticeable artist who successfully integrates visual representation of vivid materialistic everyday reality, microscopic pursuit of individual mental symptoms and macroscopic reflection on intangible social agencies of control and violence in multiple forms(photography, video, sculpture, installation, space design).

In »The Monument«, we see people, mostly middle-aged men, idling around a war memorial park in Korea and pause in front of the big monument of General McArthur. While gazing at the monument looming over their heads, the »spectators«, un/consciously, come to half-mimic the monumental poses like standing with the two legs apart in shoulder width, their backs straight, chest wide open, eyes head up, arms bent weighing on the waist, finally, their one hand poked in a pocket just like the General. The whole look of the monument doesn’t emerge as the artist detects the people’s behavior one by one. A silent climax of the video is a mystical painting of the same icon appropriated in oriental folk-religious fashion drawn by a local shaman. The image of actual monument and the sign in the painting are overlapped in rosy mirage which suspends conflict and tension in the strange hypnosis of individuals trapped in-between colonial memory and post-colonial self-determination.

Text: Heejin Kim