Feminist media artist Jung Eun-young was awarded the 2013 Hermes Foundation Art Award for her five-year project that delves into the Korean masquerade actresses from a traditional Korean theater that was popular in the 1950s.
Jung was selected among the three finalists, including Na Hyun, Noh Sun-tag, whose works are on exhibit at the Hermes Atelier on the third floor of the Maison Hermes Dosan Park in Seoul.
“Jung’s new project is in line with the traditional Korean song and dance performance in which actresses play male roles. Her project is restoring the fading tradition of the unique performance, which is worth noting in the then male-dominated society of Korea. Observing the actresses becoming men in the performances, the artist has tried to identify gender expressions and break traditional gender discourses,” said Moon Young-min, an associate professor of art at University of Massachusetts Amherst who is a member of the judging committee, at the award ceremony on Tuesday at Maison Hermes Dosan Park.
|Artist Jung Eun-young, winner of the 2013 Hermes Foundation Art Award, poses in front of her video work at the Maison Hermes in Seoul. (Hermes Foundation)|
Jung presented four video works that trace the process of repeated training for singing and acting for male roles on stage ― the process of the artificial transition of gender roles the artist has closely followed since 2008.
“My project started when I discovered old actresses who disguise themselves for male roles in traditional song and dance performances through an association committed to preserving the unique performance. And my finding has basis in my interest in the feminist movement and my research into the Korean culture in the 1950s,” Jung told The Korea Herald after she was announced the winner.
The 15-minute single channel video “Act of Affect,” being played in a dark room, captures the transformation of an actress into a man back stage. The actress picks up whiskers, draws strong eye lines to add masculinity to her face, and wraps her chest with a bandage to flatten her chest for a complete makeover.
|“Act of Effect” by Jung Eun-young. (Hermes Foundation)|
Other short single channel videos show strict training sessions by first and second generation actresses whose life off the stage still consists of rigorous training to become “men.”
Two finalist artists Noh Sun-tag and Na Hyun presented works based on extensive and thorough research into historical records.
No Sun-tag presents his personal examination of the shelling of Yeonpyeongdo Island in South Korea by North Korea through photographs, journals he has written and some remaining wreckage from the attack.
His interesting perspective of the incident started from a remark by the ruling Grand National Party lawmaker Ahn Sang-soo who mistakenly identified thermos flasks as artillery shells.
Na Hyun presents a cultural-anthropological connection between the artificial rubble hill of Teufelsberg in Berlin created after World War II and a massive trash dump on Nanjido in Seoul in connection to the Babel Tower.
The exhibition Hermes Foundation Missulsang 2013 continues through Sept. 29 at Maison Hermes Dosan Park in Sinsa-dong, Seoul. For more information, call (02) 544-7722.
By Lee Woo-young (email@example.com