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A terrorist act disguised under the name of art

Posted September. 09, 2015 07:06,   


Art works don’t necessarily have to be beautiful. Marcel Duchamp released “Fountain,” a piece of porcelain urinal, and Damien Hirst exhibited a dead shark embalmed in formaldehyde. While their art works were provocative, they also broke the convention of art. Art works can also carry political meanings. Eugene Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People” is a masterpiece that expresses the spirit of the French Revolution that expelled the king.

Art works deserve respect since they express artists’ unique mental world. However, Hong Sung-dam’s drawing of anti-U.S. activist Kim Ki-jong and U.S. Ambassador to Korea Mark Lippert doesn’t deserve merit no matter what. It shows two men on each side of a table, one man pulling the tie of another man pointing a knife at him. It describes the incident where Kim attacked the U.S. ambassador with a knife, slashing his face, at a breakfast seminar in March. The work has neither metaphor nor is symbolic. On the table is a long, densely written text, which appears to be supporting Kim’s assault.

Hong is an activist artist previously created a stir with a picture satirizing President Park Geun-hye at the Gwangju Biennale last year. He came with “Sewol-Owol,” a drawing that describes President Park as red hen, the marionette of the late former President Park Chung-hee and former presidential secretary Kim Ki-choon. Despite disputes on the limits of parody of the head of state, exhibiting such work in a place operated with public money can’t be defended as freedom of expression. Hong’s latest work had been on display at the Artist Guild Art Fair hosted by Seoul Museum of Art’s annex building in southern Seoul. Seoul Museum of Art is managed with public’s tax payment and posting the work is another terrorist act disguised under the name of art.

People have been protesting to take down the picture. Seoul Museum of Art arts director Kim Hong-hee said that he had acknowledged the problem but the exhibition director’s right to select artists had to be respected. It is a pity that the authority of exhibition director was respected at the expense of the public’s right to obtain sound knowledge. The museum ultimately decided to take down the drawing, but Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon should still ask for responsibility of people in charge. Gwangju City Mayor Yoon Jang-hyun had banned exhibition of “Sewol-Owol” last year.