Kang Hong Goo: Uninhabited Island & Inhabited Island - The Sea of Shinan II

Savina Museum of Contemporary Art
Apr 6, 2023 4:49AM

Savina Museum of Contemporary Art 2F, 3F, 4F

As its first exhibition in 2023, Savina Museum(Director Lee Myung-ok) presents Kang Hong-Goo’s solo exhibition <Uninhabited Island & Inhabited Island - The Sea of Shinan II> from March 7 to April 23.

As the first generation of Korean artists to specialize in digital photography, Kang Hong- Goo has explored the possibilities of expanding experimental aesthetics through making use of the medium of photography, where he gives variations that include digital manipulation, painting or drawing forms layered onto photographs, and using pictorial compositions to modify photographic images. This exhibition encompasses the outcomes of Kang’s research on Shinan that began in 2005 and continued for 17 years. Born and raised in Eouido, located in Shinan-gun, Jeollanam-do province, Kang only began working on Shinan in 2005 as a mid-age artist. In Shinan, amongst a total of 1,025 islands, 72 are inhabited, and 953 are deserted. Exploring it’s inhabited and uninhabited islands, Kang has produced works in various mediums; landscape photographs that captured life and death in the islands, digitally manipulated photographs where the fading memories and fantasies coincide; paintings with collected objects (that were swept up to the islands by the waves); a 14-meter-long collage that was made by sewing together 26 pieces of drawings and paintings; a video of Manjaedo that recorded the landscape and its sound of waves, and many more. Amongst the works, around 70 pieces are showcased in this exhibition.

The series of Shinan works as the record on places that constantly changes with continuity, and at the same time, it is a journey that Kang takes to recognize his own identity through revisiting the childhood memories of his hometown – such as the color, scent, sound, and sense of touch that are rooted within his body. Kang started working on the series of Shinan following the ‘familiar unfamiliarity’ that he experienced. In 2005, having visited Shinan after a long time, Kang recognized a gap between his own memories of childhood and the current landscape of Shinan as it was at the time of his visit. It led him to explore ‘familiar unfamiliarity,’ that he defines as the ‘deja vu via jamais vu.’ Subsequently, Kang observes the island from an insider’s perspective (having been born and raised in Shinan-gun), as well as the perspective of an outsider who has been away from Shinan for a long time. In his Inhabited Island series, Kang captures the varying aspects of the life of islanders; the changing landscapes in the islands where people live in, such as Gageodo, Manjaedo, Heuksando, Hongdo, Anjwado, etc., and the unchanging landscapes of the islands, such as the sea, sky, farming fields, ports, schools, markets, etc., that are not affected by the passage of time. Kang’s personal fantasies, desires, daydreams, and visions are reflected in the Uninhabited Island series, which begins with memories of uninhabited islands and rocks such as Serpent Island, Ok-som, Simpi, Sat-som, and Halmi-som. As a child, uninhabited islands were part of a tangible reality that existed in front of his eyes, and at the same time they were a subject of his daydreams, places that were filled with mystery. On the photographs of uninhabited islands and rock islands that Kang took in Shinan, he drew on the things that are foreign to uninhabited islands – torchlight, lifeboat, piano, huge wildflower, etc., – which comes from his childhood dreams and imaginations on uninhabited islands. These disparate and foreign presences create a landscape that is distinct from the islands in reality, as a place of unreachable dreams, a space of perfection, isolation, and fantasy.

Hosted by : Savina Museum of Contemporary Art

Supported by : Arts Council Korea

Savina Museum of Contemporary Art