Scene from "Sound Graden" by Jeamin Cha. Photo: Disclosure

JFor some years now, increasingly, discussions around the Anthropocene have become a fundamental agenda in the research and production of contemporary artists around the world. If themes such as the destruction of nature were already present in the visual arts for a longer time, the urgency of the environmental crisis and the consolidation of a new concept - which refers to the period in which human action in nature is so huge and so destructive that it starts to represent a threat to life itself on the planet – proved to be unavoidable in the artistic creation carried out in the most varied languages ​​and supports. 

Within this context, it still seems rare in the western world, and in Brazil more specifically, a close look at the oriental production on these themes, in countries such as, for example, South Korea. “From the beginning, the objective of this curatorial project was to show the non-Western Anthropocene”, says Juhyun Cho, curator of the show. Anthropocene: Korea vs Brazil 2019-2021, on display since the beginning of January on the platform Videobrasil Online. Filling part of this gap, therefore, is one of the objectives of the exhibition, which brings together powerful audiovisual works by six contemporary Korean artists: Hayoun Kwon, Sanghee Song, Ji Hye Yeom, Jeamin Cha, Eunji Cho and Song Min Jung.

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Scene from “Future Fever” by Ji Hye Yeom. Photo: Disclosure

The date in the title refers to the start, in 2019, of a broader cooperation project between Associação Cultural Videobrasil and the Ilmin Museum of Art, in Seoul – of which Cho is the chief curator -, which presented an exhibition of artists Brazilians at the Korean Museum. The second exhibition, with the work of Korean artists, would be held in person in Brazil in partnership with Sesc, but ended up migrating to Videobrasil's new platform due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the forced change, the new format proved to be coherent with the research of the Korean curator – very focused on the relationship between art and new media – and with the support of the works, which mainly mix footage and 3D animations. 

For Cho, the presentation of the 11 videos – “highly narrative” and lasting between 5 and 35 minutes – in a virtual environment, allowing the visitor an unrestricted number of accesses, at any time over the course of a month, “seems to be advantageous for delivering messages to the public, who can experience a more complete immersion and appreciation”. In fact, the availability of time seems to favor the show, given the density of the works, with narratives that are sometimes fragmented and with multiple layers of appreciation, in a tangle of views on social and geopolitical issues in Korea, but also related to global issues. contemporary.     

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Scene from “Sound Graden” by Jeamin Cha. Photo: Disclosure

Despite the different themes dealt with, the perception of a dystopian world bequeathed to the future by the Anthropocene runs through most of the works. According to Cho, “they are artists who operate on the border between normality and aberration, in works that, in different ways, are based on the documentary”. Fiction and the traces of surrealism that appear in films and animations are not unconnected to conflicting realities faced in the world, especially in peripheral regions or by disadvantaged groups. “The works do not present the utopian vision that this capitalist world will be overthrown or become better, they show the blindness or the invisible side of the crisis and reality we face”, he says. “Artists are speaking directly about the crisis and who is suffering from it, through historical facts and science fiction narratives,” he explains.

Among the universes portrayed, there are stories set in places such as the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone between South and North Korea), hospitals, streets and stadiums in Seoul, the roads in the interior of the country or the sea along its coast, but also in a village in Nigeria, in Paris or in areas of the Brazilian Amazon. There are still unidentifiable places, seen in past or future times – sometimes with video game-like aesthetics – and references to Leviathan, Artificial Intelligence, psychology, militarism and feminism. 

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Scene from “Wild Seed” by Min Jung Song. Photo: Disclosure

Korean women 

In line with the approach given more than 30 years ago by Associação Cultural Videobrasil to the artistic production of the so-called Global South – a term referring to marginalized countries or groups in the global geopolitical context -, the approximation between Brazil and Korea allows for the establishment of dialogues that have not yet been seen in the cultural institutions of both countries. "Above all, I thought that solidarity centered in each area was significant so that the objects of discrimination, exclusion and alienation that modernity and global capitalism created could acquire a new identity”, explains Cho.

For Solange Farkas, director of Videobrasil, “it is of great importance to show the South American public the philosophical, political and ecological views of Korean women artists who explore with extreme skill the relationship between the terrible ongoing global crisis and the impact of the activity. human on our planet”. The fact that they are only female artists, highlighted by Farkas, is not unrelated to the search for the vision of disadvantaged groups, as the Korean curator explains: “I also wanted to show how the patriarchy of capitalism exploited women and nature, and how important it is to build a global coalition with victims of the western race for capital accumulation, including workers, indigenous peoples and various minorities subjected to oppression and discrimination by modern society. But of course I don't think that only female artists can build this solidarity”.

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Scene from “A Night with a Pink Dolphin” by Ji Hye Yeom. Photo: Disclosure

At the end of the one-month period in ther, on the 1st of February, Anthropocene: Korea vs Brazil 2019-2021 gives place on the Videobrasil platform to another exhibition conceived in partnership by Farkas and Cho, a solo show by Ayoung Kim. One of the most outstanding contemporary artists in the Asian country, Kim represented South Korea at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015, had important solo shows at the Melbourne Festival and the Palais de Tokyo (Paris), in addition to having participated in several biennials. and film festivals around the world.

According to Cho, Ayoung Kim presents, in videos, performances and installations, contemporary issues such as modern Korean history, oil politics, territorial imperialism and the movement of capital in the world. In her experiments, the artist also presents a vast work with archives and with data development and evokes unfamiliar ways of reading, listening and thinking about the conditions of the world. The exhibition will be the fourth to occupy the space of Videobrasil Online, inaugurated in September with the documentary Abdoulaye Konaté – Colors and Compositions, followed by exposure jolts, by Ayrson Heráclito, and the group show Antropocene, by South Korean artists.

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