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"Translated Acts: Body and Performance Art from East Asia, in collaboration with the Queens Museum of Art, New York"
2001-03-09 until 2001-05-06
House of World Cultures
Berlin, , DE Germany

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 art.

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 them.

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 acts.

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 Zhijie 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.

Atta Kim

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