SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Why Performance in Authoritarian Korea?

Joan Kee

Date: 5 December 2014Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 5 December 2014Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B111

Type of Event: Seminar

Note: Internal event not open to external attendees.

During the tumultuous years from 1966 to 1976 when the Korean state under President Park Chung-hee shifted into outright dictatorship, South Korean citizens found themselves grappling with an increasingly authoritarian regime whose claims to power depended on the perpetuation of various dualisms. Two were particularly important: group loyalty versus personal interest and uniform, grand histories versus aberrant streams of identification. Countless intellectuals responded to the crisis, but artists with a serious commitment to performance offered especially visceral ways of emphasizing the specificity of the individual. Focusing on the works of Lee Kun-yong, arguably the first artist in South Korea to consciously and systematically create performance art, this presentation makes a case for the

centrality of performance to what might be described as art’s social consciousness in the face of authoritarian repression.

Joan Kee is Associate Professor in the History of Art at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  A specialist in modern and contemporary East and Southeast Asian art, she was previously affiliated with the International Center for Advanced Study at New York University, the University of Hong Kong and the National University of Singapore. Her writings have appeared in Artforum, Art Bulletin, Art History, Oxford Art Journal, Third Text, and the Journal for Law, Culture and the Humanities. Her
book, Contemporary Korean Art: Tansaekhwa and the Urgency of Method, was published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2013.