Koh San Keum: Hommage to You—Capital and Love

2 June - 2 July 2016
Installation Views
Press release

Gallery Baton is pleased to announce Koh San Keum (b. 1966)’s solo exhibition Hommage to You—Capital and Love, from 2nd June to 2nd July 2016.

Koh San Keum has been producing text-based practice. Strictly speaking, her main interest addresses ‘human sciences texts’ which define each individual’s thoughts within a system of a social convention and furthermore these texts are fundamental leitmotifs of her final outcomes. Though text is a complex which consists of language and it responds to human perception, the artist transforms it into structural art pieces that only react to optical sensations and illuminates its function of conveying lexical meanings by adopting the methodologies: ‘appropriation’ and ‘transformation’. It consequently declares a termination of a relationship between the texts employed by the artist and their semantic/ideational role. As Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913, Switzerland) insisted that the relation between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary, when certain texts maintaining the arbitrary connection with actual objects are converted into a form of assembled artificial pearls, they only leave their datas of coordinates and numbers (identical with numbers of words). This information operates as a sort of a protocol that enables spectators to presume the original text, along with a title assigned to the artwork.

The process of shifting texts consumed as social signs such as novels, newspaper, poems, and philosophy or law books into a material object demands intensive handiwork: deploying 4mm artificial beads one by one onto panels depending on numbers of the words and spacing of them. As a result, this procedure allows semantic context of the sentences to be hidden, whereas it underlines not only the artist’s imagination and energy, but also a visual formativeness and an aesthetic impression stem from the texts. The texts delivered by the pearl beads break away from their functional part as a symbol, at last reach the state of Post-nationalism. They eventually are reborn as a new level of language, universal and neutral, basically responding to human sense of sights.

As the title of this solo show Hommage to You—Capital and Love suggests, Koh took Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty—First Century, a book internationally spotlighted for its in-depth analysis on a substance of capital incomes and economic inequalities, as a starting point of her exhibition. She selected particular pages corresponding to flows of current society’s capital from the 19th century’s Realism fictions such as Le Père Goriot (Honorede Balzac) and Les Misérables (Victor Hugo). Koh said that she attempted to remind a viewpoint on capital that human and society have been adhered to by applying her own unique manner. The great contemporary writers’ observation on social functional relations and human affairs in regard to money is represented into continuous lines of artificial pearls containing various connotations by the artist. Those words and sentences received coordinates and numbers as their new identities attain organizational similarities of how fluid money and goods exist in the present society. It implies that abnormal proliferation and penetration of capital which is merely means for mediation and irrational intensification of immaterial main agents’ authority are still in progress.

Koh San Keum completed a BA in Fine Art at Ewha Women’s University and a MFA at Pratt Institute, USA. She has been actively presented her works at major museums and galleries such as Seoul Museum of Art, Sungkok Art Museum, and National Museum of Contemporary Art (Dansaekhwa: Korea Monochrome Painting, 2012). Koh’s first solo exhibition at Gallery Baton until on 2 July.