InKo Centre and Arts Council Korea are delighted to initiate WaterBodies: an annual Indo-Korean Arts Residency project focusing on Arts and the City. Ten renowned artists- 5 each from Korea and India, working in tandem with two curators from each country, will work for ten days in December at Chennai to create their own art works, drawing inspiration from the city and local community or through collaborative projects with local artists and citizens. At the end of the residency, the work of these artists will be presented as in-situ, performative installations in January in Chennai. As such, the audience will necessarily engage with the artistic creation, placed within the context of their city and participate in the
creation of meaning.
Chennai is home to the Marina Beach which is the second longest beach in the world. Interestingly though, the city does not have a distinct beach culture which goes with most cities that are close to water bodies. However, the coastline is a repository of history, recording silently both the passage of time and the changing history of the city as well as recording the ravages of time. The beach remains the most democratic space for people- it is a free and open space where all divisions of class and social standing disappear, dissolving like the sand on the shore into the vast expanse of water that stretches beyond to become one with the horizon. The Bay of Bengal that nestles the city of Chennai, nurtures a vibrant fishing
community and positively defines much of its biosphere, did also in the recent past, cause untold upheaval and grief when a mighty tsunami caused tremendous destruction and changed many people’s lives forever. WaterBodies will focus on both the life-giving and life-threatening aspects of water, which universally, but most particularly in Asia, has deep cultural associations that link it as an element that is crucial at every stage- creation, birth, life, death and re-creation. The project will examine how artists respond to water as a concept - how it defines their own work and what its integral relationship is to the site and space that inspired the creation of the work itself.
WaterBodies, alluding to ‘water bodies’ as natural art formsone that could be both life-giving and life-threatening, a positive and negative force- takes into account the fact that human beings are made up mostly of water; that the earth is more water than land and that some of the most magnificent of artistic creations either use water as a medium (ceramic,
painting, sculpture; architecture) or as an inspiration (film, music, photography, sonic art). If ‘water’ is liquid, fluid, defiant of form then ‘bodies’ are mass, solid, defined by form. It is this dialectic, this creative tension that holds together this project
WaterBodies, as the first of the proposed annual Arts Residency projects, will include renowned artists from a range of disciplines: Visual Art; Sonic Art; Film, Music Photography and Art and Technology. The goal of the annual Arts Residency programme is to promote cultural and creative exchange between Korean and Indian artists and to highlight the potential of the arts in driving or facilitating positive social change.
Chennai, the 9 Years In Between Curatorial Statement by Hyweon Lee (Sau Korea)
Though many Koreans recognize it as the name o f a popular chain of local Indian restaurants, "Ganga" is actually the Hindi word for the River Ganges. Indians refer to the river as
"Mother Ganga," expressing their respect for water as the source of life. Conversely, the Ganges also symbolizes Shiva, the god of destruction. These two contradictory aspects of water have long held a place in Korean culture, too. Since ancient times, water has symbolized women, especially
mothers, as witnessed in the founding myths of two early Korean states: both the mother of King Dongmyeong of Goguryeo and the consort of Park Hyeokgeose, founder of the kingdom of Silla, are said to have issued from water. The power of water, too, was acknowledged in ancient rites such
as "feeding the Dragon King" (an undersea deity believed to determine the fortunes of fishermen and sailors), a still-practiced ceremony in which women go down to water’s edge and sprinkle salt into the sea on the first full moon of the lunar calendar.
In a society where water is available anywhere and at any time at the turn of a tap, however, it is hard to retain a sense of the true value of this commodity. The same can be said of its power, which, to most Koreans, has been demonstrated only through dramatic media images of people in other countries suffering from the devastation wrought by floods and tsunamis. The theme proposed by Nomadic Residency India, "Water as the Object of Life and Danger," however, seemed more than a mere suggestion: it was felt as an urgent plea for us to reconsider our ill-defined understanding
of water, chosen above all because 2013, the year of the residency, has been designated "International Year of Water Cooperation" by the United Nations; and because December 2013 marks the ninth anniversary of the tsunami that tore through the Indian Ocean, killing several hundred thousands of people in areas throughout Southeast Asia and India. In Chennai, around 7,000 people lost their lives to the tsunami and many more lost their homes and livelihoods as a result of it. Some of those who survived the tsunami are still forced to sell kidneys to make ends meet.
Chennai, the 9 Years In Between was planned with two approaches in mind: "water as a threat" and "water under threat;" in other words, from both the perspective of humans and of water. It attempts to handle these approaches by way of four sub-themes: "Archive," "Everyday," "Interactivity" and "Site-Specificity." In fact, these sub-themes are also important keywords in
contemporary art and culture. This attempt to approach water and art via the same keywords is based on the fact that the two share a number of characteristics. Water, just like art, is a public asset shared by humanity and an important resource when it comes to shaping the cultural
characteristics of a given society. Art and water also serve as catalysts for exchange between people, cities and countries. Hyweon Lee (Korea)
Ph.D in Art History, University of Missouri, Columbia
MA in Art History, University of Oklahoma
BS in Psychology, University of Maryland
Hyewon Lee is a curator and Professor of Art History at Daejin University in South Korea.
She has written extensively on transcultural flows in art and has curated several high quality art
shows. Hyewon Lee is very interested in Art as social practice and Arts and the community.
2008 MFA, Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, UK
2007 PG Diploma (Fine Art), Chelsea College of Art, London, UK
2004 BA (Sculpture), Kook Min University, Seoul, Korea
Sea Water Antenna, Chennai (Installation)
Jung-ki Beak, whose previous works include using electricity generated by several hundred bottles of water to incubate several eggs and using water from Seoul’s Han River to print images on homemade litmus paper, attempts to pick up short-wave radio signals from neighboring countries by shooting sea water from a Chennai beach up into the air and using the resulting water jets as antennae (the abundant electrolytes in sea water allow it to serve as a conductor). By visually demonstrating the circulatory nature of water through the concept of contact, Beak intends to show how we are all linked, as one, by water. In fact, the artist believes that the amount of water on earth has not varied since the planet was first formed, instead remaining constant in a cycle of alternation between liquid and gaseous forms, and that the blood and tears of those who lost their lives in the 2004 tsunami may thus even form a part of the water that we drink today.
YOUNG IN HONG
2012 PhD Art, Goldsmiths College, London, U.K
2000 MA Fine Art, Goldsmiths College, London, U.K
1998 MFA Sculpture, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea
1996 BA Sculpture, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea
In Blue of the Real (Carnatic music performance)
Youngin Hong focuses on Carnatic music, a system of Indian classical music that developed in the Chennai region. Through collaboration with Earth Sync, she attempts to experiment with the possibilities that exist at the intersection of traditional music and contemporary art. This is a site-specific vocal project that does not make direct use of water. Instead, Hong writes lyrics
after investigating actual changes in water due to factors such as temperature, pollution, and the aftermaths of disasters, and studying traditional poems, prose and songs that link water and human psychology. The project constitutes a continuation of Hong’s earlier work, The Fifth Secret Song, which was performed at Culture Station Seoul 284 (Seoul’s early-modern former main station building) and which linked the cultural and formal complexity of Korean modern architecture to the contrapuntal structure of baroque music, thereby exploring the relationship between music and sense of place. In the process of converting the memories of local Chennai people of the tsunami into musical language, Hong hopes to expose fundamental yet hitherto unrevealed aspects of the region. She is planning an impromptu concert by a Carnatic vocal group and is leaving the performance venue and method of inviting audience members open to change, according to local circumstances.
2008 Yale University, New Haven Ct. (Mfa)
2003 Art Institute Of Boston At Lesley University, Boston Ma. (Bfa)
Boxing Day (Photography)
Suyeon Yun, who has spent the last few years travelling through Korea, the United States and Arab countries using photography to record the traces of disasters in people’s everyday lives, plans to search for remaining traces of the tsunami in Chennai. Yun’s works, which take the aftermath of disasters as their temporal background, reject the dramatic effects espoused by traditional documentary photography and instead take on an everyday, still and even indifferent character. Her mixing of the positions and perspectives of those who experienced the disasters and the artist observing them shows us that experience of a disaster is something that can never be generalized. This work, which records traces of the tsunami that hit Chennai on December 26 – a date known as Boxing Day, after the tradition of putting Christmas presents in boxes – will go beyond mere reproduction or criticism of reality. It aims to reveal truths that we, who experienced the disaster in the form of a media spectacle, with aerial photographs of a huge wave meeting the shore and images women wailing in agony atop piles of ruins, never previously understood or imagined. The results, at the artist’s own suggestion, will be juxtaposed with those of residency artists’ joint archive project, thereby displaying different perspectives on the same theme.
B.E.- Soonsil University, Electrical Engineering and Telecommunication.
HBO B.A.- Koninklijk Conservatorium- Electronic Music
Seoul-Chennai Soundscape (Sound)
Chang-won Park, who majored in electronic music in Korea before continuing his studies at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, plans to make his way around various places in Seoul and Chennai using equipment such as cups, microphones and hydrophones to collect the sounds made by water. He will then synthesize these samples with sounds related to water pollution to create a soundscape linking the two cities. Park will also work on sound-related aspects of recording, installation
and performance projects by other residency artists.
M.F.A., Sculpture, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA, 2003.
M.F.A., Sculpture, The Graduate School of Ewha Womans Uni. Seoul, Korea, 1998
B.F.A., Sculpture, The College of Art and Design, Ewha Womans Uni. Seoul, Korea,1995
Vessels of Consolation (Community project)
Jiyoung Chae’s previous work includes a variety of projects using water and lighting. In Chennai, she is planning a performance that mixes a local ceremony in which women pour milk from urns into the sea to commemorate the tsunami with a traditional Korean ritual in which women sprinkle salt into the sea on the first full moon of the lunar calendar to pray for a year without floods. This project, which involves placing salt in jars engraved with the names of those who were lost in the tsunami and then placing them in the sea, will form a part of the memorial ceremony in Chennai on December 26. Its message is one of samsara – the cycle of life, death and rebirth – delivered through the sending of salt back into the sea from which it once came.
Curatorial Statement by Sharan Apparao (India)
The curatorial angle of the section of artists from India will be based on explorations and the history of water. Chennai being on the coast with the constant reminder of the sea was always a focus of trade and conflict arising from it. This coast has had a rich history dating back many
centuries. The port city of the Cholas, Mahabalipuram, was not only an entry point for trade but a great reminder of the excellence in art and culture. The sea that was the great giver in the reigon was also a taker in the case of the tsunami. It is believed that the during the Sangam era,
there was a deluge of sorts that swept away many poets and intellectuals who were attending a poetry congress. It is this influence of the sea, the coastline and the gaze it creates for the artists that the section of Indian artists is concerned with.
Vivan Sundaram in his multi screen projection allows himself to explore the idea of the deluge and lost cities, while Surekha in her installation explores the very source of water across nations. Subodh Kelkar explore the role of the sea in trade and the tides in relation to the phases of the
moon as well as, the resultant impact on navigation. Gigi Scaria explores the idea of recycling of water while Sujay Mukerjee deals with the stories of the sea in his sculptural video installations.
All the art works will involve the viewer and engage the mind in exploring, understanding and remembering the role of the sea in keeping with the theme of water. The exhibits will be placed along the shore in Besant Nagar leading to the Estuary of the Adayar River. Sharan Apparao, India.
Vivan Sundaram in his multi screen projection explores the idea of the deluge and lost cities.
He has worked extensively on the sea being an integral part of trade routes ect. The artist explores the role of the sea in trade and the nature of tides in relation to the phases of the moon as well as, the resultant impact on navigation.
Sculptural video installations
On the beach Sujay Mukerjee deals with stories of the sea in his sculptural video installations. The objective is to look into a sea as a theatrical stage with history (mostly the colonial era i.e. the 18th,19th century) fantasy and fear as being the three chief such a theatre.
New media installation
Surekha has done considerable research on water and her works are known for the mix of video and physical presence, highlighting inherent experiences.
Gigi Scaria explores issues of recycling water with themes of reclamation and preservation in
his Fountain Sculpture.
Arts Council (ARKO)
Arts Council Korea was established to promote creativity and enjoyment of
the art by supporting diverse arts and cultural activities in Korea. The Council
consists of eleven dedicated professionals of the cultural and art sector in
Korea. The Art Council also places emphasis on the establishment of arts
infrastructure. It facilitates the rise of practice-oriented policy implementation
in line with the increasingly sophisticated cultural environment of Korea.