“Cicatrix” Exhibition

Cindy Rucker Gallery

poster for “Cicatrix” Exhibition

This event has ended.

Curated by Eun Young Choi and Sewon Oh

Cicatrix explores the creative possibilities in which art mediate the process of recuperation or reclamation after socio-political and man-made ecological traumas. Rather than dwelling on grand ideologies or politics, the artists in the exhibition, both Korean and non-Korean, examine the man-made wounds that permeate the daily life in different locations and cultures to offer various perspectives on healing the physical, psychological, environmental, economic and social scars. The exhibition will touch upon many complex social issues of native vs. non-native, man vs. nature, shifting politics vs. ecology and border crossings & immigration which are broad universal themes that can be understood globally regardless of one’s understanding or interest in a specific local political climate or context.

For the Korean artists, the demilitarized zone (DMZ) running across the Korean peninsula near the 38th parallel embodies conflicting aspects of violence, anxiety and absurd tranquility amid the persistent threat of impending war. It is the source of catastrophic trauma both psychologically and physically as it cuts through the middle of a once united sovereignty. The four Korean artists/teams will present diverse perspectives and narratives sur rounding this uniquely Korean trauma while non-Korean artists will be presenting their own narrative about the socio-environmental traumas in their home countries. Johanna Bystrom Sims explores the natural disasters of Sweden often creating dialogue between sound, color, and movement while New York-based artist Augustine Boyce Cummings paints melancholic landscapes of the American Southwest as he explores race and the larger questions of humanity’s place on earth and its symbiotic relationship to the natural world.

Although unintentional, the DMZ has been afforded time and space to restore itself into a nature sanctuary for the past 67 years. However, in another ironic twist, the biggest threat to this protected nature reserve is the prospect of peace and the inevitable development of this valuable and contested real estate. ContempoLocal’s work titled “Punch Ball” examines the devastating history of violence and volatility in the Punch Bowl region of Yanggu, now known for its natural resources and agriculture thanks to the severely restricted access. Any talk of officially ending the Korean War may open up old wounds as psychological, social, and economic vulnerabilities rise to the surface since intense land disputes and devastating mass displacement for the peaceful farming communities may be unavoidable.

In “pray for you” and “Seoul, Seoul, Seoul and South and North” Jun Young Kang examines his past psychological experience of fear, trauma, confusion, and anger associated with South Korea’s political history. Kang rhetorically questions the definition of beauty, love, peace, and life using the paraphernalia associated with political turmoil and resistance. Even toothpaste takes on a symbol of resistance and resilience as he reexamines the pervasive oppression and ubiquitous violence from his youth. Kang’s work seems to be encouraging the formation of cicatrices over the social wounds as part of the healing process. SHIN Je Hyun will showcase a new work for the show. He creates masks imbued with scents, to reveal the pitfalls of the current system that controls and manages the COVID-19 pandemic.

Similarly, Sun Choi’s work will include a new painting that uses the different shapes of the coronavirus as a pattern for creating camouflage to ward off evil. Additionally, “The taste of the North” examines the adjacent yet immeasurably distant North and the South. The deceptively simple and poetic act of collecting sea water flowing down from the North in order to extract sea salt seems to encompass the universal distance one might feel about the unknown other while simultaneously connecting the other to us through the very basic and fundamental ingredient, salt. All the psychological, cultural, social, economic as well as physical distance that separate the muddled unknown seem to now be intimately connected to us by this shared element that is put in our bodies.

The enigmatic other still exists and yet we seem one step closer to reconciliation. Though full-fledged fighting never resumed after the armistice of 1953, military tension has remained high, gravely affecting a broad range of tangible and intangible aspects of daily lives for Koreans. Cicatrix continues the exploration that was started in the exhibition Contamination (also curated by Sewon Oh & Eun Young Choi at CR Collective in 2018) and attempts to present a broader artistic dialogue between local and foreign creative minds to examine the various elements of trauma in different societies to propose healthy alternatives to purge the toxic volatility and defuse the persistent violence and scaring not just in Korea but in different communities around the world.



from December 10, 2020 to January 23, 2021

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