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Think conceptual art is confusing? See them in person!

Posted January. 20, 2020 08:06,   

Updated January. 20, 2020 08:06


A dark room with books scattered on the floor. The only available light sources are videos played from tubes, which are suspended from the ceiling. Projectors in the seven tubes cast the images of the face, torso, mouth, and fingers, excerpts from French writer Maurice Blanchot’s “The Last Man,” and a video of a chair over the books. These short videos are on repeat. This is American artist Gary Hill’s installation, “I Believe It Is an Image in Light of the Other” (1991-92).

The keyword of the work is “part.” The scattered books in the room only reveal the open parts of them. Only parts of the body, not whole, are projected in videos. Even more decisive is Blanchot’s writing. The part quoted by Hill is where the French writer talks about his physical and psychological experience of lying in a dark space. The installation is the recreation of the scene described in the book. Blanchot had a meaningful impact on post-structuralism – represented by French philosophers Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze – which proposes that one’s perception is formed by countless sensory and perceptual experiences.

Readers can personally experience such a way of thinking by visiting the “Gary Hill: Momentombs” exhibition at Suwon Museum of Art. The artist’s works from conceptual pieces in the 1980s in relation to post-structuralism to more recent works will be showcased until March 8.

Min Kim kimmin@donga.com