Minouk Lim: MMCA Film & Video at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul
Not a huge gesture of resistance, but a desire to express the determination to refuse any blind obedience to convention often provides a motivation for works exploring and experimenting with the nature of media. MMCA Film and Video's program Dear Cinema Chapter 3 features two artists, ByungJun Kwon and Minouk Lim, whose oeuvres are based on the negation of a society that they perceive as full of norms and customs that cloud our reasoning.
Having once performed in underground bands such as Pippi Longstocking, Mozosonyon, and Wonder Bird, ByungJun Kwon can be seen as an image of resistance. Kwon went to the Netherlands and worked at STEIM, a center for research and development of electronic musical instrument where he made musical instruments for other artists. After returning to Korea, Kwon started performances that combine sound and multiple genres. Developing new instruments and working across different genres, his rebellious character is reinvigorated through imaginative experimentation that refuses conventions. However, if we concentrate on the uniqueness of performance, we might overlook the depth and richness of materials. I believe if they have an opportunity to listen to Kwon's unpublished soundtracks, made sometime between 1996 and 2016, audiences will be able to experience more vividly what forms and textures in music he has imagined. Kwon selected 10 pieces from his unpublished soundtracks and remixed them to adapt to the spatial features of the MMCA Film and Video. Starting from String Quartet Based on Morse Code (1999) and ending with Song for Taipei (2016), these 10 soundtracks combine ambiences, voices and other sounds in complex yet minimal compositions, so that the qualities of individual soundtracks stand out distinctly from one another. Leading us to imagine a cold and expanding space, the album of contemporary music titled ByungJun Kwon (1999―2016) will offer audiences a time in which cinematic imagination is stimulated without visual images, just with sound.
Incorporating documentary and performance, Minouk Lim uses texts as a device for metaphors in her video works such as New Town Ghost (2005) in which she suggests, through musical beats and lyrics, a critical view of the regional landscape of Seoul, a playground for corrupted capitalist powers. Tenor & Sweet Potatoes (2004), one of her early pieces has a simple structure and uses the space where a performance is happening as a traditional means of delivering messages. In her latter works, Lim addresses different subject matter, attempting extension or variation of forms. Reconstructing footage film materials using a montage, The Possibility of the Half (2012) approaches the background of collective sentiments with critical eyes and in Wrong Question (2006), Lim places a taxi driver's lengthy complaints alongside the landscape of Seoul as seen from a passing car. In this way, Lim reveals ironies in an ideological bias dominant in our surroundings and collective thinking. As Vladimir Jankélévitch said, ironizing a subject means opting for justice, and thus the discernment of social relationships is essential. Paying attention to relationships, Lim's work captures aspects of these ironies. S.O.S―Adoptive Dissensus (2009) is a visual record of a performance of lights and performers happening by the Han River where sightseeing cruises pass and also a documentary which produces ironies through allegorical approaches to relationships and an exploration of place. The Weight of Hands (2010) goes on a pilgrimage to places regarded as shameful by our society and reveals gestures suggesting a search for personal and collective memories, captured using thermal imaging cameras. Both The Weight of Hands and Game of 20 Questions―The Sound of Monsoon Goblin Crossing a Shallow Stream (2008) address issues of collective memory specific to nations, races, regions without generalization. Like a double-edged sword, the dangerous use of irony in Lim's work keeps her works balanced, blurring the boundary between the private and the public.