Saturday, January 10, 2015

WHAT Did You Say?

Jihwan Park in his exhibition is called "Latency"
at the Brainery,
 The Village Gate, Rochester, NY

In the wake of the massacre of writers and cartoonists at the publication "Charlie Hebdo" in Paris this week, I hope people will stop and think about what they say and how it effects others.  WORDS MATTER.  In the art world, there is a broad spectrum of visual expression that seems to be inclusive, but it also challenges you to think.  Making a political statement within a context of fine art is nothing new, look at Daumier for example, or a more contemporary artist like Sue Coe.  Another example might be in a show called "Latency" that just opened by Jihwan Park at the Mind/Matter Gallery in the Rochester Brainery over at the Village Gate on North Goodman Street, in Rochester, NY.

The Brainery is an educational institution that originated in my old neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.  They give classes now in Rochester as well, and they have exhibitions like this one from January 2 to the 31st, 2015.  Jihwan Park came to study at Rochester Institute of Technology leaving Seoul, South Korea for his graduate art education ( MFA ).  Jihwan has an impressive portfolio of architectural projects to his credit, yet he wanted to do something with a more personal impact.

Jihwan Park at work 
in Seoul, South Korea

When you go see his show - start with viewing the documentary film about his "Armored Vehicle Project".  You might miss it - but in the opening dialog of this edgy film you get a bit of the background story that called into creation this piece of performance art from Jihwan.  This project came as a response to the deaths of two civilians run over by a military vehicle.  The driver of the military vehicle was exonerated.  Jihwan Park got personally involved when he created his own "armored vehicle" covered in gloves that were pasted to the outside, and then he staged an accident in the street that brought to attention the injustice that occurred over the original incident with the military.

What is difficult with this kind of demonstration is that it runs smack up against authorities ( the police for example ) who don't take this kind of freedom of expression very lightly.  In the United States we had some of the same response to demonstrations against the Vietnam War, and also for civil rights, among other incidents in our history.  What Jihwan Park is doing is raising our awareness and engaging us in a deeper - more radical form of expression - where the rubber meets the road! He makes this quite clear in other works of art that make up his exhibition including sculptural installations at The Brainery.

Jihwan Park at The Brainery

Jihwan's art is physical, as well as intellectual.  His "Broken Art" series is his articulate response to having his work trampled on.  He takes familiar paintings from art history - for example The word LOVE from Robert Indiana that comes from POP Art or see  ( the quote from a Roy Lichtenstein above ) and uses these images in a way that is calculated to get a response.  The painting is literally torn apart, but the fundamental structure of ART still remains.  

Jihwan's art is physical as well as intellectual
here his installation sheds light on his painting of a chandelier