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Hermes competition all about new media

Whoever turns out to be the winner, the 2011 Hermes Foundation Missulsang will be presented to an artist or team who enjoys creating new media such as videos, photos or spacious installations.

Kim Sang-don, Che One-joon and Part-time Suite, three finalists of this year’s art compeition, are currently showcasing their experimental artworks that explore different genres ― but all with video in common ― at Atelier Hermes in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul. The artists were sponsored by the Hermes Foundation to produce new works. 
A scene from Part-time Suite’s video “March Dance.” (Hermes Foundation)
A scene from Part-time Suite’s video “March Dance.” (Hermes Foundation)

“There are only two criteria in selecting the artists -― they should be aged below 45 and should have held shows at least once before. It wasn’t intended, but somehow it was works by these media artists that caught judges’ eyes this year,” said Lew Jee-hyun, exhibition coordinator.

Established in 2000, Hermes Foundation Missulsang has been given to 11 artists so far including Suh Do Ho (2003), Park Chan-kyong (2004) and Yangachi (2010) to promote Korean culture and art through sponsorship of the artists.

Five committee members each recommended two artists, and five judges including Kang Taehi, professor at Korean National University of Arts, and Bartomeu Mari, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona, selected the finalists from among them. 
A scene from Kim Sang-don’s video “Solveig’s Song.”(Hermes Foundation)
A scene from Kim Sang-don’s video “Solveig’s Song.”(Hermes Foundation)

Taking a closer look at the exhibits, Kim’s section, titled “Solveig’s Song,” is full of incongruities produced by mixing unexpected images, sounds and objects together like innersoles and a budding plant; three-legged crow and cleaning mops and the whirring noise of a helicopter with hikers on mountain trails. It is the artist’s way of pondering the geographical and cultural gaps found in different places in South Korea.

Che searches for the crossing point of modern and contemporary, and labor and art. His mockumentary “Spinning Wheel” is based in Mullae-dong in western Seoul where small-scale ironwork factories and artists’ ateliers coexist. In the three-channel video, professional actors as well as actual laborers and artists tell their stories about the neighborhood which once served as a munitions manufacturing zone. 
A scene from Che One-joon’s video “Spinning Wheel.”(Hermes Foundation)
A scene from Che One-joon’s video “Spinning Wheel.”(Hermes Foundation)

Notably, it is the first time Part-time Suite, a group composed of three artists ― Park Jae-young, Lee Mi-yeon, Lee Byung-jae ― is holding a show in a gallery. The group has been creating their own exhibiting spaces, for example in tiny unknown basements, because of their site and context-sensitive works.

Realizing that while a gallery may also limit artists’ freedom, it helps them to get closer to the public, the team attempted spatial changes by hanging an 8-meter-tall and 1.75-meter-wide handicraft in the center of the building and turning 42 square meters of the gallery space into a nightclub.

The final winner will be selected on Sept. 22 and receive a plaque and prize money of 20 million won ($18,540). The exhibition continues through Oct. 4 at Atelier Hermes in Maison Hermes Dosan Park in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul. For more information, call (02) 544-7722.

By Park Min-young (claire@heraldcorp.com)
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