“1968, or Vulnerability in the Two Koreas" follows two storylines that began with a single conflict: In the beginning of 1968, North Korean commandos shocked the world as they nearly succeeded in assassinating South Korean president Park Chung-hee. Two days later, North Korea captured a U.S. Navy intelligence vessel, an incident that brought the world closer to nuclear war than it had come since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Acute brinkmanship brought unprecedented pressure to bear on the concept of nation, a tension especially palpable in some of the most memorable images produced in both Koreas. In North Korea, masculinist displays of military and industrial strength common to state-mandated Socialist Realist painting sometimes yielded to abrupt juxtapositions between nature and industry, which betrayed uncertainty or even alienation from the dream of a worker’s paradise. In South Korea, where photography was shaped around the twinning of economic development with state-promoted “tradition”, a new generation of photographers conveyed profound skepticism towards South Korean state enterprise. To unpack the complexities and urgencies of the works, audience needs to actively invest in deep engagement to be able to see how the works presented turned vulnerability as the most significant lens through which to consider the nation in real, rather than ideal, time.
Joan Kee is an Associate Professor in the History of Art at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include modern and contemporary art in East and Southeast Asia from the late 18th century to the present and "applied art history”, where art historical methods are used to consider a wide range of non-art subjects, from law to digital communication. Formerly a lawyer based in Hong Kong and currently a contributing editor to Artforum, her books include “Contemporary Korean Art: Tansaekhwa and the Urgency of Method” (2013) and “Models of Integrity: Art and Law in Post-Sixties America” (2019). Current research projects include a history of Afro-Asian artistic engagements, an essay on North Korean ink painting and a short book on the rise (and rise) of emojis.
This talk is organised by Melissa Karmen Lee and Jacqueline Liu.
Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please RSVP by clicking the “Book Now” button on this webpage or via the Tai Kwun App. Lectures will be conducted in English with Cantonese interpretation available.
Summer Institute is an inaugural programme offered by Tai Kwun Contemporary. This year, four distinguished scholars will lead seminars and public lectures on the theme of Labour and Privilege, explored through art historical and contemporary art case studies. This will take place between July 30 and August 10 in A Hall and JC Cube. Summer Institute is organised and conceived by Melissa Karmen Lee and Joan Kee.