Oct 30, 2015

Hidden Stories Discovering Artists

Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation

The Neighborhood Artists - 11.Jaewoo Oh

Whole (Arts)Fraud
When being introduced artist Jaewoon Oh’s works, I was impressed by his intelligence felt from the multi-layered works. Most prominently, it is introduced that <Collectors’ Choice> at Art Lounge Divang in 2011 exhibited the works of modern art’s masters such as Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Damien Hirst, and Chapman Brothers by liaising with collectors and renting the works. The exhibition reminds me of <LIVING ROOM: Collection 1> held by Daelim Museum in 2006, and you can read an introduction to <LIVING ROOM: Collection 1> saying that the exhibition is a special invitation to the living rooms of six collectors, from famous modern arts to designers’ furniture and Chinese antique collections. They make it clear that the exhibition has differentiation from the existing artificial way of exhibition in terms of ‘bring the real living rooms of collectors into the museum’ 

Then, is <collectors’ choice> an imitator of <living room: collection 1>? Is <collectors’ choice> an obsolete way, not breaking from the convention? The artist’s addition to the showroom was interviews on the purchase of works with collectors, certificates and the photos of the actual spaces with the works and so on. Even though apparently they have similarities, the dramatic reverse of <collectors’ choice> is that all the plans are fakes cooked up by the artist. He invented the whole things by copying works of masters like Rothko, Warhol and Hirst in person, sending the copied works to the fake collectors and collaborating with them.

For the open studio, I read his proposal and heard his working from Jaewoo Oh. He said that he was preparing for the open studio in line with <cigar poem>, <still life_oil>, <book titled poem>. A part of Palestine of <cigar poem> is as follows, for example.

Peace light
simple VISION
...... ......

The artist said he would run a project of <book title poem> at the open studio because he thought it would be easier to write verses based on the book title like the project of <book title poem> than based on the names of cigarette like the project of <cigar poem> in which MDF boxes were arranged with cigarette case-printed photographic papers covered up. I thought that it would be the best choice for the audience of the open studio. Furthermore, he said that he planned to exhibit the audience’s poem in the studio so that they could take the photos. I thought he is such a smart artist that he considers the reactions from the audience. At the day of the open studio, the bookshelves were filled with books. The books were placed by color and early birds started to engage themselves in the fabulous project. While all participants boasted of their originality, and artist Oh and his staff took the photos in the lights and the white background, put them in frames, and gave them to the participants. Students from Ansan High School were delighted with the unboring workshop where they could take part in. A part of the audience’s works is as follow;

What do you call me
Selfish genome
The woman who lives more beautifully with getting old
To live is to draw
The time to lose the solitude
Hope sincerely, act enthusiastically.

One of high school students wrote this poem, which includes the world from their perspective. Everyone is happy to participate in the workshop and satisfied, and this is a best practice of the participatory workshop, I thought. It has been long time since the successful open studio was over. And when I recalled what the actions on the day were again, a doubt started to grow.

To create is a direct action. When we see the internal attribution to the action, its attribution of contents and its form can be different depending on whether it has a fundamental power to create or it adds nature of imitation or reproduction. A work of art is the case and writing a poem might assume a similar aspect. When a simile and a metaphor are mingled, we admire for the creative style of a poet, and the conventional articulation of everyday is introduced to the poem, new effects can be produced. <cigar poem> and <still life> by artist Jaewoo Oh are not composed of factors of individual objects. In <cigar poem>, the artist transfers the symbolic nature of an object, and in <still life>, the time that flows with the camera’s movement is the artist’s choice.

The project of <book title poem> has relatively limited intervention of the artist compared to <cigar poem> and <still life>. There are direct actions like selecting and arranging books, but there are no words the artist adds as a selector and a creator. Therefore, the project of <book title poem> itself is assigning the limited role to the artist’s direct action. The limited role fits the condition of limited time in the workshop. So in order to run the project of having an artistic experience under the given condition, this is an appropriate choice of the planner.

I wonder the difference between <book title poem> by Jaewoon Oh and the works by the audience in the open studio. If Jaewoo Oh does this, it is Jaewoo Oh’s work and if the participants do it in the workshop, then do they become the participants’ work? Is the fact of ‘If I do it is my work, if you do it is your work’ valid? Interpretation and understanding of walking a fine line between the original and the copy has already been recorded in the art history of the 20th century. Artist Jaewoon Oh did his working of <book title poem> based on titles of books. So the classical meaning of a work already has a crack in his idea and the working process. This is a modern art. A modern art does not need to originate the newness.

Now the workshop participants go back home and will be pleased to remember what they did in the open studio seeing their own work on a shelf or a table. But if – I do not know whether it is reasonable for me to suppose saying ‘if’ - Jaewoo Oh planned another fake exhibition in the name of <director’s choice>, not <collectors’ choice>? If the participants are asked to send the photos of their work placed in their own home? Can the audience find the individuality of each work when seeing the works of workshop participants congregated in the exhibition? Maybe, I suppose the audience looks and reads the photos in line with the work of artist Jaewoo Oh. What I would like to say is not all the process is converged on <book title poem> and all the workings are condensed into the work of Jaewoo Oh. In that sense, the workshop in the open studio mass-produced ‘works’ from the work.

The workshop in the open studio departs from the precedent which gives strict standards and absolute value to an artist and his or her works. I do not know if artist Oh intended the crack as a planner. But the crack results from the way of his working regardless of if it is intended or not. It is a pity that his works, which can be interpreted to be political, provocative and radical, are regarded as literal, emotional and participatory. Why am I going to destroy the happy memories on the day? That is because I noticed the back of the happiness as soon as I turned back and above all, wanted to be a conspirator to the arrogance and the provocativeness of an art. Then, would you like to be a victim of the fraud or a conspirator to the fraud? I would like to pay my tribute to the planner of the well thought out fraud.

Written by Hyunju Kim
(Creative Director/Art Critic)

Jaewoo Oh

B.A. of Department of Painting, College of Fine Arts of Hongik Univ.

Solo Exhibitions
2012 Collector’s Choice, Wellington City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand,
2011 Collector’s Choice, Art Lounge Divang, Seoul
2009 The Chronic Withholding of Judgement, Art Space Hue, Seoul

Planned Exhibition & Group Exhibitions
2015 Real DMZ, Art Sonje Center, Seoul
‘Uproarious, Heated, Inundated’, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul
Flore&Founa, Arko Art Center Space Feelux, Seoul
The Moments Others Remember, KunstDoc Art Gallery & Institute, Seoul
2014 The First Encounter, The Beginning of 'Empty Friendship', Incheon Art Platform, Incheon
The Art of Leisure, Culture Station Seoul 284, Seoul
2013 Screen/Scape, Shiryaevo Biennale of Contemporary Art, Samara, Russia
No Comment, Seoul National University Museum of Art, Seoul
2012 Indian Summer Night, Lage-egal, Berlin, Germany
A Crowd of Jugglers in the 1 o’clock Direction, Insa Art Space of the Arts Councill Korea, Seoul
And others

2014 the 5th Artist-in-Residency of Incheon Art Platform, Incheon
2012 WARE Residency, Wellington, New Zealand
2012 LAGE-EGAL, Berlin, Germany
2011 the 9th National Artist-in-Residency of Art Studio, Changdong, Seoul

Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation
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