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Forms of the Shadow
Kuratiert von Sunjung Kim
20.9. – 17.11.2024

Kyungah Ham, What you see is the unseen Chandeliers for Five Cities SK 02-01 North Korean hand embroidery, silk threads on cotton, middle man, smuggling, bribe, tension, anxiety, censorship, ideology, wooden frame approx. 1800hrs 1person, 2017 -2018, 137 x 183 cm

The shadow is a powerful time-image that embodies constant flux. It never stays the same. The shadow comes into being by double operations of the light and the things that block the light. The shadow visualizes the movement of the Sun, but the things that block the light determine the forms of the shadow. The performativity of the shadow is reflexivity. 


The Real DMZ Project (ongoing since 2012) has been an attempt to reflect upon some of the shadows created by the Cold War. It has focused on the particular geographic region called the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). As one of the most heavily armed borders in the world, the DMZ has divided the Korean Peninsula, not just in a spatial way, but also in a spiritual way. The DMZ as a buffer zone between North and South Korea is a land that is contained within itself. It reflects the shadows of both sides. As a psychological self-defense, the DMZ has been a reality that can be deliberately erased in the consciousness of people in the Korean Peninsula. But it never goes away. At different historical moments, and according to different political needs, it comes back and casts a shadow even in our post-Cold War era. The Real DMZ Project has aimed to put a spotlight on the things that block the light and to bring out the particular forms of the shadow of the DMZ. 


Under the Naked Daylight

“… only under the naked daylight, reality came crashing down.”—Chika Sagawa


The global pandemic has been the naked light through which our realities came crashing down. We have learned we are interconnected more than we imagined to be. What this pandemic put a spotlight on was the shadows of our time: the climate crisis, poverty, inequalities, financialization of natural resources, wars and borders. If the Real DMZ was an attempt to grasp the forms of the shadow created by the DMZ, we would like to propose another chapter that goes beyond the specific geographical boundary. How do we see the forms of the shadow in our time? 


In the land of shadows, from conflict-ridden battlefields to areas of severe repression, from tense national borders to carceral territories, the impediment to mobility and pervasive restrictions are constantly deteriorating the natural flow of energy. How do we bring the naked daylight to the land of the shadow? How do we reconfigure the specific stretches of space and time that are rendered by our contemporary spatial debilities? This project proposes to cast the artist’s eye as the naked daylight that will redistribute the sensible to resist spatial debilities. By conveying how we feel about the world we live in, we would like to create a scenography of our troubled world that explains our state of feeling. The aim of this strategy is to cause a change in the audiences that would recognize the familiar sensibles in the unfamiliar stories. It is to reclaim our bodies that have been limited by the shadow of our time. Some of the artistic motifs that have inspired this new chapter: moving lights in Haegue Yang’s blinds series, the reflected light in the mirrors portrayed in Sung Hwan Kim’s films, Minouk Lim’s searchlight in S.O.S., and the ways in which Young In Hong deploys the light in her embroidery pieces. 


Engaging issues such as the climate crisis, labor migration, and borders, the Real DMZ Project has always evolved into something more than itself. In 2015, invited by Slought, the Real DMZ Project presented at University of Pennsylvania. In 2017, in collaboration with Denmark’s Kunsthal Aarhus, we organized the Aarhus Edition. In 2018, we held an exhibition at New Art Exchange in Nottingham, UK, and in 2022 at Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany. In 2023, the Ottawa edition at SAW Gallery took place. Each new edition has been informed by its local context and concerns and the commissioning institution. For the Secession version, we will invite Austrian artists to reflect on particular local issues. In terms of logistics, we will promote green practice. We will try to minimize shipping, while focusing on new commissions and performance programmes. 

Programmiert vom Vorstand der Secession

Kuratiert von
Sunjung Kim (Gastkuratorin / guest curator)

war Chefkuratorin und stellvertretende Leiterin (1993–2004) und Leiterin (2016–2017) des Art Sonje Center in Seoul, wo sie seit 2022 künstlerische Leiterin ist. Sie ist außerdem Vorsitzende von ICOM Republik Korea (2023–) und Mitglied des Vorstands der Asia-Pacific Alliance (ASPAC) des Internationalen Museumsrats ICOM. Sie war künstlerische Leiterin von ACC Archive & Research am Asia Art Culture Center (2014–2015) und Vorsitzende der Gwangju Biennale Foundation (2017–2021). Außerdem war sie künstlerische Leiterin des von ihr gegründeten REAL DMZ PROJECT, eines die Grenzen des Museums überschreitenden Kunst- und Forschungsprojekts, das 2011 ins Leben gerufen wurde, um die (un)sichtbaren Grenzen der demilitarisierten Zone in Korea mittels Kunst kritisch zu beleuchten und für die andauernde Teilung Koreas zu sensibilisieren. Am Art Sonje Center hat sie seit 2007 Ausstellungen mit Werken von Künstler*innen wie Martin Creed, Kim Beom, Haegue Yang, Lee Bul, Sung Hwan Kim und Abraham Cruzvillegas kuratiert. Außerdem war sie Kokuratorin von Heidi Buchers Ausstellung 2023.

Vereinigung bildender Künstler*innen Wiener Secession
Friedrichstraße 12
1010 Vienna
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