The best art show I've seen in years -- among the best I've ever seen, possibly destined to rank in my memory with Matisse/Picasso at the MoMA when MoMA was in Queens, or last century's Mondrian retrospective at MoMA -- is one featuring 12 relatively young, commercially-savvy artists from Korea, now running at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The show is called "Your Bright Future," and as you view the work the three-word title resonates by turns as propaganda, pedagogical imperative, corporate insinuation, sarcasm and earnest sentiment.
I've been wanting to blog about this show ever since seeing it with my brothers at a member's preview in June (I had to join the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to get in; I'm glad I did). But I've been stymied by the facts that (a) I took no pictures of the show (signs said I shouldn't, and each exhibition space had an attentive guard equipped with an unobstructed view), (b) every image I saw had prominent copyright notices attached or embedded, and (c) the LACMA (there, I've given in to the museum's marketing department's acronymic branding; it is convenient) website, initially, didn't show anything other than the flash animations of YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES, specially commissioned for the show.
Circumstances have changed, a bit. For one, I've recently reviewed the fair use doctrine and feel more confident about my mission here on wac6arts.com. For another, the LACMA site now has videos and photos posted -- a ton of them, almost as many as there were works in the physical show -- and not every photo is immune to a right-click to a new window that can be copied.
The photo above is of Haegue Yang, but she is not in the show. Rather, her work, Storage Piece (2003/2009), also pictured here, is. The artist is sitting at the corner where you enter the show at LACMA -- it is the first exhibition space to the right of the entrance lobby. Yang's work is about the practical problems an artist has when a gallery show of her work closes and the work that does not sell is returned to her. Rather than unwrap the returned work, though, this time Yang leaves it packaged up, and exhibits it that way. It is a brilliant turn. The stylized arrangement of warehouse pallets suggests to me that the work is destined always to be in transit, or even that its status as art derives from it being always imminent without ever being consumed or revealed. (I do understand, however, that the artist will make one or two appearances at LACMA, and that some of the pieces may be unpacked; I'd like to get down there again to see one of these events.)
This second photo is of the second room you come to in the show, just after the exhibit space for Storage Piece. This next room, and the one that follows it, exhibits sculpture and video by Gimhongsok. Gimhongsok is also a writer; the wall texts that accompany his pieces (even the video pieces) are perceptive, arch, funny and accessible. The piece that interests me most in the room pictured above, and perhaps in the whole show, is the box within the plexi-glass box on a stand off the left wall. The writing on the wall to the left of the box tells its story, which is of a conversation between Mao Zedong and Richard Nixon that secretly took place in Switzerland in the early1970s. The CIA, the story goes, captured the conversation and secured it for posterity within two boxes, one of which was given to the Chinese government but has since been lost. Thankfully, the box in the show is known to survive. The piece may be known as Mao Met Nixon, but I am not sure and I don't know what year to attribute to it.
There are other things you must see if you travel to this show. These include Jeon Joonho's digital animation, The White House (2005-2006), an extended portion of which you can currently access on the LACMA site. (I can't give you a direct link to the video; you'll have to scroll right to get to the column about Jeon Joonho. In the physical show, the video is much more dramatic, as it is projected onto a wall that is probably some 30 feet wide.)
Another must-see is Kimsooja's "6 channel video projection," A Needle Woman (2005). One wall of Kimsooja's piece, as projected at LACMA, is pictured above. (Again, an excerpt of the work can be accessed on the LACMA site. This excerpt shows better in the smaller web-video format than does the excerpt of Jeon Joonho's piece.)
In the last exhibit space in the show, before you return to the entrance lobby, are two very dramatic large scale architectural models by Do Ho Su. One of the works, the extraordinary Home within Home (2008-2009), pictured below, was commissioned by LACMA for this show.