Park Hyun-Ki was a trailblazer in Korean video art for having first introduced video to the domestic art scene. Whereas the internationally-renowned video artist Nam June Paik primarily worked outside of Korea and only became involved in the domestic scene from 1984, Park Hyun-Ki, already in the late 1970s, had begun to adopt the moving image into his distinctive body of works. Park began to distinguish himself as a notable artist at Daegu Contemporary Art Festival (established in 1974) and increasingly more so by extending his scope with his participation in Bienal de São Paulo (1979) and Biennale de Paris (1980) followed by numbers of exhibitions in Japan in the 1980s. The domestic attention turned to his favor in the 1990s when video art came into the limelight in Korea, leading to the production of some of his key works, such as Mandala Series and Presence & Reflection Series, all emerged since 1997. While still in his heyday, Park was unexpectedly diagnosed with stomach cancer and passed away in January 2000.
Park has left an extensive volume of works and archival resources in what could have been a relatively short 58-years of his life. With over 20,000 archives donated by artist’s family, which have been comprehensively catalogued and first made available to the public for the occasion, the retrospective at MMCA stands out from the other posthumous attempts to recast a light on the artist’s oeuvre. From the notes he made as a student in 1965 to the sketches completed immediately before his death in 2000, the selection for the exhibition encompasses a span of 35 years in the artist’s life and art. In addition to the exclusive survey of the artist’s works, the exhibition, an attempt to convey the artist’s “nearly everything,” includes reproductions created based on the archival resources. With over 1,000 works and resources from the artist’s archive, this exhibition hopes to offer glimpses into the core of the artist and provide the grounds for further research into the artistic oeuvre of Park Hyun-Ki.
Documentary photograph of Park's Poplar Event held at The 3rd Daegu Contemporary Art Festival (1977). The artist drew the shadows of poplar trees along Nakdong River using lime powder. The white lines in symmetrcal repetition to the actual shadows were drawn on the ground.
Untitled was presented at Park's first solo exhibition at Seoul Gallery (July 3-9, 1978), for which the artist embedded an artifical stone made of glass into a pile of real stones.
This is a video installation and photograhy set, which recorded the scene of Nakdong River located in outskirt of Daegu. The mirror which was set in the middle of river reflects the image of the slowly running water. This work was exhibited in Park's solo show at Hankook Gallery in 1979.
Documentary photograph of Video Inclining Water Performance presented at XV BIENAL INTERNACIONAL DE SÃO PAULO (October 3-December 9, 1979). The water on the monitor shifted in congruence with the orientation of the monitor.
One of Park's key works, this "video stone tower" was presented at 11e BIENNALE DE PARIS (September 20-November 2, 1980) held at Musee d'art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and Centre Georges Pompidou. A montior displaying an image of stones was embedded into a pile of real stones, alluding to the blurred boundary between reality and illusion.
For Pass through the City, a 16-meter wide artficial stone with a mirror attached was loaded to a large trailer to be driven across the central region of Daegu while the responses of the passerbys were photographed and filmed. The result of the performance was exhibited at Maek-Hyang Gallery in Deagu from March 17-28, 1981.
Untitled was a video installation presented at Media as Translators (June 26-27, 1982), an exhibition held at Gangjeong region of Nakdong river. Six performances were held during the course of two days, the process and outcome of which was documented with photographs.
A work presented at the artist's solo exhibition at Inkong Gallery in Daegu (May 21-26, 1990). The work consisted of spreading the wooden rail ties the artist had collected on the ground and sparsely placing, inbetween the ties, the traditional pounding stations (used for smoothening clothes) made of birch. The two different objects created an exquisite harmony with corresponding shape and proportion.
Long wooden sleepers, either vertically or horizontally, were cut on the one side to create multiple sections onto which monitors or stones were inserted.
The Mandala was exhibited at Kim Foster Gallery in New York (June 26-July 26, 1997). The image of mandala, a symbol of universal truth in Tibetan Buddhism, was projected onto a crimson pedestal used in ancestral rites. Although an immediate impression is that the projected image consists of geometric iconography, the image is a composite of pornographic imageries that comments on the ambiguous boundary between what is sacred and secular.
A work presented at The Korean Culture & Art Foundation's Fine Art Center in Seoul for the exhibition Park Hyun-Ki: Video Installation 1977-1998 (September 4-16, 1998). The work was first introduced at the exhibition A Point Contact-Korean, Chinese, Japanese Contemporary Art in 1997. With a resounding noise, the tilted screen on the wall projects a waterfall while the screen on the floor shows a stream of water gushing forth.
A posthumous work presented at the 3rd Gwangju Biennale (March 29-June 7, 2000). The video image continuously projects a fingerprint paired with an identification number of a person, as if alluding to the countless numbers of birth and death of human beings while each one of us bears a designated "code."
Curated by Kim Inhye
archive ⓒ MMCA, PARK Hyun-ki Collection
installation photo ⓒ MMCA(Photography Park Myung-rae)