East Contemporary

Arko Art Center: Cody Choi & Lee Wan “Counterbalance: The Stone and the Mountain” (Korean Pavilion Biennale Arte Venice 2017)

Seoul, March 20 – May 20, 2018, http://www.arko.or.kr

Last year’s Venice Biennale Korea pavilion came back “home” and is on display at Arko. The package on show is a well-balanced combination of old and new, Korean and international, conceptual and pop, etc. There is almost everything, and the variety that the two artists managed to cover is all-encompassing. Cody Choi is the older generation artist peaking in 80’s/90’s, and his work represents the conceptual/pop/painting/us consumerism part of the show: Conceptual sculptures, some abstract paintings, a disco music and light installation, a Las Vegas/Macao style neon light installation, etc.. Lee Wan is one or two decades younger, and his topics are that of global capitalism, consumerism and value creation. His conceptually-driven approach allowed him to cover whatever Cody lacked: There was a presentation of the past 80 years of Korean history based on a found set of photographs and other items collected on Korean flea markets, there was a documentation of an “illegal” 3D scan-and-reprint of a Korean sculpture from the Met (US) collection (topic: post-colonialism), there was an artwork on the differing value of “time” based on economic circumstances (how much a person has to work to obtain one meal), and there was a detailed documentation of Lee Wan’s investigation into production chains from raw material to final product (making sugar, coffee, straw sandals, etc. from raw materials on site). The vastness of the topics covered lead to the fact, that I actually did not know what to think about all of this when I left the exhibition… it was a lot, all neatly arranged, but almost indigestible.

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