Koh Sang Woo: Forever Free - The Animal That Therefore I Am

Savina Museum of Contemporary Art
Jun 22, 2022 4:32AM

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

Solo Exhibition of Koh Sang Woo <Forever Free - The Animal That Therefore I Am>

This 2022 summer, Savina Museum of Contemporary Art(Savina Museum) presents Koh Sang Woo’s special exhibition, Forever Free: The Animal That Therefore I Am, to re-examine the value of coexistence and symbiosis which brings balance to the ecosystem interlocked with webs of life, and to search for sustainable solutions through art. The subtitle of the exhibition "The Animal That Therefore I Am" has been taken from the book, The Autobiographical Animal, which points out the speciesism within human society; anthropocentric mindset within human society recognizes humans as solemn beings, who are allowed to treat animals without respect or rule over other beings with sensitivity.

Through his practice, Koh Sang Woo shows how he values “harmonious coexistence with biodiverse species.” In 2019, the exhibition opened at Savina Museum discussed how the diversity within species and ecosystem is an important asset for humanity, and delivered the message of coexistence and symbiosis that ‘all life is equally valuable’. As a participating artist in the exhibition, Koh Sang Woo worked with subjects of endangered animals, and through this solo exhibition, he presents works from past three years. Works including animal portrait series, a compilation of digital drawings of more than twenty different endangered animals, '#KOHEXIST series', 200 pencil drawings delivered through Koh’s passionate research, and algorithm project with Artificial Intelligence ‘Karlo’ commemorating the 'International Tiger Day which is celebrated every year on July 29th to raise awareness on the importance of protecting tigers and its habitat, all display Koh’s multidisciplinary and experimental takes on the subject.

The most notable works in this exhibition are the digital paintings of endangered animals, which borrowed the form of a frontal portrait in traditional art. Koh took the often-underestimated animal portraits and presented them as equally important to the human portraits to achieve the equality of species. In other words, his practice embeds the artistic message equivalent to a declaration of animal rights, recognizing wild animals to have individuality and emotions just like humans, and as beings who should be respected as members of the community of multi-species. In his works, animals have been given personality, which is evident through their gaze which reaches out towards the audience. Strong and confident, their eyes break the anthropocentric worldview where humans are recognized to be superior, and animals are regarded as inferior. Also, the blue tone which is from the negative techniques where color and shades of photographs are reversed, is featured not only in his self-portraits and human portraits but also in the animal portraits. The initial interest he had towards racism has now expanded to various social issues such as generation conflict, sexism, terrorism, violence and animal rights, and his works contemplate and reflect on the varying conflicts and confrontational structures.

Through his series of endangered animals, Koh Sang Woo proposes a way back to the source of life. Empathizing with the pain of others, and working towards lessening that pain is the utmost challenge facing humans. Through the relationship one holds with the other, one can reflect on the reason and value for one’s existence.

Organization : Savina Museum of Contemporary Art, WWF(World Wide Fund for Nature)

Support : LG Display

KOH SANG WOO: Forever Free - The Animal That Therefore I Am, 2022.6.15 - 9.11(EXTENDED)

Savina Museum of Contemporary Art