Yong Soon Min
My art practice engages interdisciplinary sources and processes in the examination of issues of representation, cultural identities and the intersection of history and memory. My role has been varied including organizing exhibitions, being a faculty member, an activist as well as an artist.
Two work will be discussed that I find revealing. The Korea Vietnam publication and LIGHT/AS/IF are modest and not necessarily among my strongest works but they touch on various aspects of the way I think and work.
In delving into the discourses of historical events, I harbor a personal mission to join the ranks of the few who carry the torch to tell this story, particularly in the art world, where activating the field with interdisciplinary work that represent counter histories and memories can make a difference. Known for my collaborative curatorial work transPOP: Korea Vietnam Remix, this time I was invited as an artist to contribute work that included painting as well as photo layouts.
I've made several research based work, this time probing the pictorial archives of Korean soldiers in Vietnam. The remarkable find was the photograph of the soldiers back in Korea where the centered couple entwined and kissing made my mind wonder, allowing flights of fancy to imagine them as different amidst the heteronormative society. That this couple was missing a leg each was a sobering reminder that over 5,000 Korean troops died in Vietnam and double that number returned home physically and mentally damaged, many for generations from the agent orange.
Although LIGHT/AS/IF is distinct in terms of its relatively small size and a more personal topic, I chose this work for its typical use of serial characteristic that is a constant in many installations.
There's a range of meanings available in viewing installations, whether one view it whole from a distance or views each element separately. Each mahogany block reveals three different ways to address the topic of wounds. I take pleasure in the formal interplay of the convex and the concave: first block full of small convex nobs that stands for braille text, the third wood block with a large convex element that one can follow through it's voluptuous curves while the center block involves a sunken white porcelain bowl that represents the concave element.
In terms of material and function, the sphere is a distinct element. But the distinctness and its function to potentially travel around the room to disturb the quiet and the still, fixed nature of the wood blocks atop the pedestals intrigued me. In the formal concave/convex interplay, the orb represents a major convex element in relation to the floor but also a concave element in relation to the three wood blocks.
The last slide partially shows the library of the Art Culture Center, located in Gwangju, the Republic of Korea is an enormous establishment that purchased my archives surrounding my substantial role in the Asian American movement in New York during the 80s. The collection includes books, the paraphernalia and ephemera as well as videos.