Anyang at the Dawn of the Day: The City Dreaming of a Utopia / The Voice of Anyang
The name of the city, Anyang, stands for a blissful place where everyone lives in peace and joy, without any pain. Inspired by the city’s name, artist Song Sanghee embarks on an exploration in search for the utopian aspects of the city, visiting 33 different places, in which is included the usual urban establishments found in any other place such as a post office, park and traditional outdoor market, as well as establishments particular to the city, such as the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency, the Korea Seed & Variety Service, the National Radio Research Agency and former Seoi-myeon Office. In the process, she discovers that Anyang is just an ordinary city that is in fact far from the ideal.
However seeing the city’s landscapes at dawn, quite different from the day, the artist senses its true nature masked by the thick layers of the common exterior. Here, the artist introduces a chilling thought: perhaps, these establishments created to make our lives more comfortable, including governmental authorities, educational institutions and recreational facilities, are, in reality, part of a dark system that categorizes, brainwashes, and sensors human society, destroying our private lives and taking control of everything based on a grand, sinister design. *Anyang at the Dawn of the Day: The City Dreaming of a Utopia* is a playful story of a dystopia, based on a fictional premise that behind this ordinary and peaceful façade, lurks a dark force that conspires to brainwash the human race.
In order to weave this fictional narrative set, the artist quotes phrases from eight different books, including *Perfect Society* by Moon Yun-seong (1967), *Brave New World* by Aldous Huxley (1932) and *1984* by George Orwell (1949). The narrative is mostly composed of sentences directly quoted from the novels or paraphrased by the artist, and introduces her own writing as little as possible. Such an approach allowed the artist to limit her role to the editor and prevent herself from assuming the role of the creator. This also shows an attitude commonly found in female artists who, rather than making forceful intervention, choose to take a step back and observe. The video camera, too, remains still, capturing only subtle movements occurring in the space and helping the artist remain as an observer, instead of becoming the director. The artist chooses to wait “quietly with an anticipation, to capture something that is not obvious yet visible, like air or sound, as I look into the space absently for a while, hoping for something to happen, for someone to pass.”
The thirty minute video is installed with two black-and-white drawings, creating a sort of a triptych. A juxtaposition of metaphoric or metonymic images referring to various elements of the video, these drawings are lit by moving spotlights in sync with the video.
Along with *Anyang at the Dawn of the Day: The City Dreaming of a Utopia*, the artist also presents *The Voice of Anyang* in the archive room of the exhibition space. In order to tell stories of individuals who live within the confines of social mechanism, the artist sent a letter to the citizens of Anyang asking them to share their old letters. In response to her request, four people sent in more than 300 letters they had been treasuring for anywhere from 10 up to 40 years. Based on excerpts from these letters, the artist created a new work. Intimate stories from the letters, which belong to a sphere in which public authorities are of little concern, are narrated by the artist and delivered to audiences at the exhibition space mimicking a radio broadcast.
09/16 - 11/25
송상희 Sanghee Song ∙
Sanghee Song tweaks social situations and relative contexts to bring these issues to the foreground in her artworks. Based on her power of attentive reflection and interest in the voices of others, she works with a broad range of topics such as her personal experience with Korea’s modernization process, identity, sex workers, myths, and ecosystems. She studied in Rijksakademie for Visual Srts in Amsterdam (2006-2007), and received the Hermès Foundation Missulsang in 2008.
Videograph: Gil Ja Kim, Lee Heein
Sound: Chang Yoon Han
Letter Collectors: Noh Heekyeong, Park Myeonghwa, Park Hongsik, Shim Subin