The exhibition Translated Acts is the first in a three-part series of
exhibitions at the House of World Cultures to be held by renowned guest
curators from New York. Yu Yeon Kim, Okwui Enwezor and Salah Hassan will
present artistic positions for the House of World Cultures which have
hitherto received only inadequate attention on the German exhibition
circuit. They will present artists from Africa, Asia and the two
Americas whose work calls critically into question the existing divide
between periphery and centre, Western and non-Western art.
The Korean Yu Yeon Kim will hold the first exhibition Translated Acts:
Body and Performance Art from East Asia: The internationally renowned
curator, in her exhibition at the House of World Cultures, will present
multimedia works by twentyeight artists and groups of artists from
China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Berlin is the first stop for this
international exhibition which will subsequently be shown at the Queens
Modern Museum, New York, as well as various museums in East Asia.
It seems to me the curator says about her work, that Western art
history has failed terribly in the record of its relationship to
non-European cultures and has a definite tendency to mistranslate,
misinterpret and denigrate art that has come from Asia, Africa the
Middle East and South America... Overall, contemporary performance art
in East Asia, whether as a form of political protest or an expression of
social and spiritual anguish, has taken cultural practice far beyond the
walls of museum and gallery and cause us to reassess the way we derive
meaning from art, and in particular the way we evaluate non-European
The works in the exhibition Translated Acts revolve around the
perception of the body in the context of the increasingly urbanised and
technologised societies of East Asia. The artists show the manipulated,
deformed or newly created virtual body as a projection screen for social
conflicts and new sexual identities, as a medium of political protest
and spiritual recollection.
Translated Acts here means the translation and expansion of performing
action into the area of electronic and digital media, or rather the
penetration of the body into networked, virtual space.
Many examples of contemporary performance and body art from East Asia
are not in accordance with usual expectations. They extend from dramatic
and emphatically political protest through to complex social and
emotional alienations. Thus for instance Japanese artists began using
technology and electronic media contemporaneously with the economic boom
of the eighties in order to highlight the rifts in Japanese culture. In
China political repression led to a search for new ways of and
opportunities for performance in secret. Video thereby became the most
popular medium. As in China, so in Taiwan performance art was also often
a form of political protest. Contrastingly, in South Korea, performances
were often organised close to the border with North Korea and related to
the contradictory ideologies and systems of belief which have developed
as a consequence of the Korean War. Thus these works of art reflect in a
very particular way both the unparalleled economic, social and cultural
upheavals Asia has experienced since the Second World War, and the
enduring influence of the religious and philosophical currents of
Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism.
o The photographic essays of the famous Taiwanese artist Chieh-jen CHEN
are digital reconstructions of his own body in multiple and often
dismembered performance sculptures.
o The digitalised images of Mariko MORI show the Japanese artist cloned
and superimposed in various moments of simultaneity. Her work contains
references to Buddhist and Shinto ideas of repetition and reincarnation.
o The Japanese artist HIROMIX documents her everyday life and that of
her teenage friends in Polaroid snapshots. Her Photos of Girls are
reflective portraits and at the same time the expression of a
fetishistic objectivisation of young women and the things that surround
o ZHANG Huan's performance My America from the series Hard to
Acclimatize was created in the USA. The Chinese artist, the only Asian,
leads an event with naked men and women, defined by apparently ritual
o With his video installation the Hongkong artist HO Siu Kee develops a
space whose proportions are oriented on those of the artist's body.
Golden Proportion reflects the fundamentals of human being and action.
Yu Yeon Kim, the curator of the exhibition, was born in South Korea. She
lives as an independent art curator in New York and Seoul and is
co-founder of the Internet art organisation PLEXUS. In 1997 she was
curator of the exhibition In the Eye of the Tiger and was the
representative of the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale for the exhibition
Transversions. In 1998 she put together the Asia-Pacific section of
Cinco Continentes y Una Ciudad in Mexico. In 1999 she received a
research grant from the Asian Cultural Council and organised the Latin
American section for the 3rd Kwangju Biennale in South Korea in 2000.
Her essays have been published in Art Asia Pacific, Wolgan Missol,
Atlantica, Flash Art and Intelligent Agent among others.
The Artists in the Exhibition
Korea: Hey-Yeun Jang, Kim Young Jin, Michael Joo, Atta Kim, Ja-Young Ku,
Young Kyun Lim
China: Huan Zhang, Gu Wenda, Zhu Jia, Qi Li, Ho Siu Kee, Ma Liuming, Lin
Tian Miao, Wang Gong Xin, Wang Jian Wei, Wang Xiaoshuai, Xu Bing, Qui
Japan: Dumb Type, Hiromix, Takehito Koganesawa, Mariko Mori, Chiharu
Shiota, Motohiko Odani
Taiwan: Chen Chieh-jen, Hsieh Tehching, Lin Chun-chi, Yuan Goang-ming
The Translated Acts exhibition will be complemented by Body
Performances in a Virtual Space by the Japanese group Dumb Type. From
22 March to 8 April, every full hour from 4.00pm to 7.00pm, their
multimedia installation Cascade will be presented in the foyer of the
House of World Cultures. The group of artists creates new forms of
production, thereby providing consistent answers to the modern state of
consciousness in our times.