The 11th Daum Prize Artist Exhibition – Hyewon Keum / Cloud Shadow Spirit

Period : 2014. 6. 14 – 7. 13
Place : Artsonje Center

The 12th Daum Prize Artist Exhibition – Cloud Shadow Spirit by Keum Hyewon was organized jointly by Parkgeonhi Foundation and Artsonje Center.

The Daum Prize is a project to support young Korean artists working with the photographic media. Since 2002, the Parkgeonhi Foundation has selected artists through an annual competition held each May. It is one of the most representative creative art program in Korea, thus one could grasp the trends of Korean contemporary photography merely by viewing the portfolios submitted by applicants for the past 12 years. Each year, the winner receives a stipend to produce work for one year, and presents the results in an exhibition and a book of the works the following year. From 2012, the stipend for artists was increased to KRW 55 million, and solo shows were held in the Artsonje Center, thereby broadening the actual scope of support, and making the program the most preferred gateway for Korean young artists to enter the professional photography scene.

Artist Keum Hyewon was selected last May 2013 as the winner of the 12th Daum Prize. Her portfolios Blue Territory(2006–2010) and Urban Depth(2010–2011) objectively demonstrated the structural characteristics of the photographic medium. Urban Depth is a work that reveals underground structures of the city with a straightforward perspective, presenting another aspect of the environment of humans living in modern society. Blue Territory, which focuses on landscapes made with blue tarpaulin, a commonly used material in construction sites, received high evaluations for provoking contemplation on contemporary life by revealing the reverse side of the city in relation to time. Keum’s works on pets, to be shown in the 12th Daum Artist Exhibition and her book of the works, Cloud Shadow Spirit, may seem somewhat unfamiliar, considering that she has focused on the time- and space-specific “other side” of the city in her previous works. But if we closely examine these works about pet animals, we reach the conclusion that their starting point is not the appearance of the subjects, but the relationship, which begins from humans. This change from the environment of life to relations we establish within society can be seen as a transformation towards humanity.

Humans are social animals. They endlessly maintain relationships with others and find the meaning of existence through such relations. As rapid urbanization took place, more complex relations have been formed in human society, but on the other hand there occurred the social phenomenon of “loneliness in the crowd,” that is, increased inner isolation, in spite of being surrounded by others in the mass society. The increase of mental loneliness naturally has brought a quantitative and qualitative increase in pets, and the photographer focuses on the point where the rapport with pet animals ends in contemporary society. If so, why is Hyewon Keum particularly concerned with the death of pets? We can consider this as an extension of her previous work. Her perspective on the object is definitely objective. She is actively utilizing the greatly aggressive visual characteristic of photography. Nevertheless, many bends exist on the path toward humanity, which is what the photographer intends to talk about through these subjects.
While her stories about the city were aimed towards humans through time- and space-related reflections, in this new series she approaches the human being in modern society by using the relationship between life and death, which are two sides of the same coin. In this process the photographer triggers broader contemplation among spectators. Hyewon Keum attempts to persuade, not force, through her viewpoint on pet animals. The point we may reach on our own could be the love or attachment of humans, a fundamental desire for a system dealing with death, or for eternity, or some other place. Wherever that is, through this work we experience a different mental enjoyment of society and human beings.

Cloud Shadow Spirit [Works]