press release

Asian Diva. The Muse and The Monster
July 14–October 9, 2017
Opening: July 25, 5–6pm
SeMA, Buk-Seoul Museum of Art

Seoul Museum ofArt (SeMA) presents Asian Diva: The Muse and The Monster from July 14 to October 9, 2017 at Buk-Seoul Museum of Art, Exhibition Hall 1, Project Gallery 1 & 2).

Artists: Arahmaiani (Indonesia), Dinh Q. Lê (Vietnam), Jane Jin Kaisen (Denmark), Kim Soyoung (Korea), Ngoc Nau (Vietnam), Park Chan-kyong (Korea), Rho Jae Oon (Korea), siren eun young jung (Korea), Soon-Mi Yoo (US / Korea), Yoshiko Shimada (Japan) and Korean Geometric Abstract & Experimental Artists in the late 60's, such as Byon Yeongwon, Choi Sangchul, Chun Kyung-ja, Ha chonghyun, Han Mook, Kim Han, Kim Ku-lim, Park Seo Bo, Ree Seung Jio, Song Burn-soo, Sung Neungkyung

This exhibition explores the transformation of Asian popular culture during the 1960s and 1970s, a time when rapid economic development had the continent under its spell. As male actors were writing this history, the lives and voices of real women were being obscured by sociopolitical smokescreens, postcolonial experiences of the Cold War, and dictatorship. Many women shared similar experiences, regardless of location, during this period of rapid urbanization and economic growth. Here, we present a comprehensive look at their forgotten discourse through a prism of Asian diva songs and popular cultural signals documented along trajectories inked in postcolonial modernity.

The words “with all my heart,” a leitmotif in Asian pop lyrics of the 60s and 70s, are keywords shackling every diva who lived under an anti-communist spotlight, even as she was an icon of her generation. The popular nature embedded in these lyrics gave comfort to the margins of Asian societies and served to reflect and reenact the veiled dramas of women caught between tyranny and war.

Throughout the exhibition, we feature unearthed voices and historiography of contemporary artists alongside abstract expressionist art from those seminal decades, as well as sonic archives related to hippie modernism in Asia, comfort women, US military camp town prostitutes, civilian victims of genocide in Vietnam, and other sour notes in the chord of global “progress.” Eager for freedom and peace while rejecting material civilization against the Vietnam War’s tidal unrest, rebels without a cause buck against imperialistic American values through anti-war movements and commune-led youth culture—all while being immersed in Marxism, stripping capitalism of its deity, and glorifying Orientalism and Eastern philosophy in its place.

This exhibition further retraces the flow of Asia hippie modernism, by which psychedelic culture became folded into the public in emergent nation-states. It was a culture broadcast in music of the American Forces Korea Network, teetering on the border between folk beliefs, gender disturbances and ab/normality, anti-communism and censorship. Holding these balances in her grip was diva Kim Chooja, who still stands as an icon of one who reflects the trends of a time when culture and industry started booming in South Korea yet who demonstrates how women made manifest codes of cultural resistance by keeping pace between struggle and innovation within the cheap gilded frames of patriarchy and market economy.

Programs: Live streaming and DJing of 1960–'70s Asian pop music on every weekends by various artists

Organized by SeMA, Seoul Museum of Art

Curated by Eunjin Regina Shin and Yongwoo Lee