Normadic Artists explore world

Young artists are presenting works based on their borderless, nomadic experiences at group exhibition “As Small as a World and Large as Alone” at Gallery Hyundai Gangnam Space through Feb. 12th 2012.

The team of Kim Nayoung and Gregory Maass, stylized as Nayoungim & Gregory S. Maass along with Shin Mee-kyoung, Je Baak, Kang Eem-yun and Kim Min-ae have something in common. Their works are fueled by experience such as travel and migration. They are from Korea, except for Maass but mainly work in Europe and the United States. Instead of being bound to their home culture, they take objectified looks at everyday life and turn it into art.

Kim is from Korea while Maass is from Germany and they communicate in French since they met in France when they were studying at L’Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. They have been working together since 2004.

The duo is showing three series of artworks for this exhibition. “Relationships do not exist” is displayed on two long pedestals; “What Happened to My Sculpture?” is hung at eye level, while the “Supercomputer” series is hung just above floor level.

Their work implies various narratives from their life coming and going to Europe and Asia.

“Relationships do not exist” is composed of miniature plastic figures bought across the globe. Maass said they have been collecting for a long time but recently decided to make something with them.

The small figures are hand-sculpted and it is the pair’s way of paying respect to the pain of manual labor. “We cannibalize the figures into heads, arms, legs and bodies and ’Frankenstein’ them together and re-sculpt and paint them,” Maass said. “We give them special positions and put them in relationships with each other.”

Kim added that it is their interpretation of human figure sculpture, though childish and playful. “We thought the different types of figures from different countries, times and morals could represent the relationship best,” she said.

“What Happened to My Sculpture?” is a series of drawings on paper from hotels in several countries and “Super Computer” looks to overthrow preconceptions on size.

The two have lived in more than 10 countries including Switzerland, Belgium, Macau and Japan as well as Germany and Korea, but did not stay long in one place.

“It is hard to define from where we get inspiration but we certainly get ideas from our nomadic life,” Kim said.

The two seemed to understand each other very well. Kim said their European friends say they are both from a divided, or once divided, industrialized country. “It is less difficult than working alone as we complete each other,” Maass added.

They have been staying at the Gyeonggi Creation Center for about a year and half but their next destination is undecided. “We are very adaptable to what’s coming next,” he said.

The duo’s artistic challenge continues as their next project is collaboration with scientists on “ramyeon,” or instant noodles. “We want to explore the gap between daily life and science labs to the domain of art,” Kim said. “Basically, artists and scientists have something in common — we all try to understand the world and make it a better place.”

The other artists also reflect the trend of globalization in unique ways. Je Baak’s visual art offers a fresh yet strange perspective to familiar things by creating digital collages of amusement park rides in “The Structure” series or erasing pieces at art museums in “Gong.”

Shin is known for her “Translation” and “Ghost” series, reinterpreting porcelain in soap. Her new “Written in Soap” series, which reconstructs time-worn, ancient tiles with soap, is on display in Korea for the first time at this exhibition.

Kim Min-ae’s works are site-specific. For “As Small as a World and Large as Alone,” she set up three protractor-like objects with wheels hanging in the air on each corner of a white cube and another scattered on the floor.

Kang’s abstract paintings explore mythical metaphors in the origin of nature such as pebbles and buds.

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