The Republic of Propaganda
Kira Kim’s 2008 solo exhibition is being held in Alternative Space LOOP from July 25th, 2008 to August 20th, 2008. During the exhibition, not only the first floor and the basement space which are the main exhibition spaces, but also the second floor café and even the stairs connecting each floor, are all fully utilized as exhibition spaces.
Every space has individual themes of its own with coherent formations, and all of them are organically connected to form a single exhibition.
A lot of writers have written about Kira Kim and many of them mentioned something about the artist’s personal background, inclination, and her current situation. Probably, this is because Kim’s unique character which is directly reflected in his works. The continuously reoccurring correlativity of the artist and his works might be seen as a political apathy and a little distant from Post-modern art which is more devoted on individual boundaries.
The artist claims himself as a minority of the society; in Korea, He was indicated as a minority of the art education system, and He was categorized as an Asian in London, England when He was studying aboard. Hence, Kim, Kira’s according interest and point of view come out as a form of ‘sharply pointing out on dominant ideologies.’
On the first floor where the exhibition starts, there are ‘A contemporary Still Life’ pieces which represent the artist’s strong intention through the ideology of 16th C – 17th C stilllife paintings. A still-life painting is a product of purposeful layout of ordinary objects as contemporary of 20th C or early 21st C. Kira Kim attaches present situation to the dying objects (mostly capitalistic consumer goods). Likewise, the first floor with the still-life series would be a space where the artist’s own volition is expressed.
By showing consumer culture and capitalistic greed after an inequitable globalization through the still-life series, it became an actual demonstration of a current social section. ‘A security garden as paranoia’, which is installed on the second floor cafe, is a criticism on both colonialism and orientalism. The piece is even visually amusing, and apparently such kind of response is expected to come from a viewer’s distance. If one ever imagines oneself as an obsessive subject who organizes this kind of garden, the feeling one gets would be totally different. Just like the garden with incorrigibly compressed time and place, the attainment about outside world itself is similar to a paranoiac; the result of Westernized delusion toward ‘oriental’ and ‘Korea’.
In another piece ‘Talking with the wall as contemporary perspective 2008’, which fills the whole wall of the stairways, the ideology on current politics, cultures, and capitalism, and present subjectivity, such as “I spend, therefore I exist” are all subjected to be severely criticized.
The class system from the Middle Ages still actively exists under the rule of capitalism and in some cases, it is even more powerfully applied; through a form of a temporal mural painting, the artist shows the phenomenon on a reversible place without any exchangeable value.
Lastly, ‘The Republic of Propaganda’ in the basement space is a metaphorical symbol of both psychologically underlying form and a deep structure which keep maintaining the ideology on capitalism. The piece presents a very straightforward message to the viewers. In order to sustain the ideology; propagandas are being repeatedly broadcasted through the mass media and watching it as news, drama, movie or eating and drinking are the only options given to people, which are all consumptions. Then, is there a possibility of change and is it possible to break off the capitalistic ideology?
Kira Kim work installed in the basement uses languages to directly point out the serious circumstances, and pushes it even further to the act of subversion such as a death of a being.
The highly structured composition of this exhibition also accompanies a couple of contradicting questions; the first one is about the underlain capitalist production method with the criticism on capitalism. As a matter of fact, the arts which are mainly used methods of criticizing have to rely intimately on capitalistic elements because of the demanded spectacle and high level of intellectual standards.
Moreover, who should be criticized for the Western capitalism and the propaganda? Is there any significance in the criticism on ideology? It is assumed that capitalism and its ideology would be devoted to each one’s desire and would not be changed easily.
Presumably, a viewer would be able to evaluate this exhibition in two conflicting manners. One category of people would just enjoy it ‘although they know that they are participating in the ideology system’, which works against the good of consumers themselves; a fetishistic act as Slavoj Žižek points out with the expression of ‘enjoyment within ideology’.
For them, fine arts are only manmade products formed by various aspects and cultural narratives which are something to be enjoyed from a distance, nothing less and nothing more. The other kind would be the people who insist on the existence of the symptom of the collapse of current ideology system; it is necessary to show the possibility of the change even if the arts would be the only area.