Hiji Nam

  • A view of Amalia Ulman’s show at Jenny’s. All photos unless noted: Hiji Nam.
    diary February 01, 2023

    Naked and Famous

    THE SWISS INSTITUTE opening for Ser Serpas and Alfatih took place one day after January 24, which a friend told me had officially been declared the most depressing day of the year. I shared this with gallerist Maxwell Graham, who immediately brightened up. “That makes so much sense!” he beamed. I had the same reaction. After weeks of January melancholia, I felt a fever break last Wednesday. Others seemed to feel it too: Despite a torrential downpour, the Swiss Institute was packed—a reassuring affirmation that we do live in bodies, after all, and that these bodies live in a social body with a

  • Hardy Hill, 2 Figures, 1 Sleeping 1 (Sleep 4), 2021, plate lithograph on cotton rag paper, 14 1⁄4 × 18 1⁄4".

    Hardy Hill

    There were many naked young men, rendered with astonishing craftsmanship, in Hardy Hill’s solo exhibition “Almost Blind Like a Camera.” But they were not exactly exciting. The majority of Hill’s taut figures seem to be all limbs, posed at rigid angles and connected to handsome bodies that are fascistically fit, as if they were athletes from Leni Riefenstahl’s documentary film Olympia (1938). The kouroi are sanitized, two-dimensional, with barely a trace of sensuality or selfhood—blank slates onto which viewers can project their own idyllic (or perverse) fantasies of tender play.

    Still, a certain

  • Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Chronology (detail) 1977, color photocopies mounted on board, eighteen sheets, dimensions variable. Courtesy BAMPFA, gift of the Theresa Hak Kyung Cha Memorial Foundation. Photo: Benjamin Blackwell.
    interviews May 25, 2021

    Words Unspoken

    Grace M. Cho is the author of Haunting the Korean Diaspora: Shame, Secrecy, and the Forgotten War (University of Minnesota Press, 2008). Inscribed within its history of Korean women’s sexual labor for US servicemen during the Korean War are cracks between social, personal, and political memory that shed light on how the repeated disavowal of unprocessed material leaves traumatic residues. Published this month with Feminist Press, Cho’s second book, Tastes Like War, recounts the breakdown of her mother’s mental health and its roots in war, immigration, and racial, gendered abuse. Below, we discuss

  • Josephine Pryde, Cabinets (Six), 2019/2021, C-print, 15 x 10". From the series “Cabinets, [One–Nine],” 2019/21.
    picks April 14, 2021

    Josephine Pryde

    Josephine Pryde makes hard images. In this show, Pryde revisited her 2005 commission for the first issue of Hard Mag, for which its publisher, Dan Mitchell, asked her to contribute photographs of shopping articulating “frustration, pain, humiliation, difficulty, failure, paranoia, [and] low self worth.” For the assignment, Pryde began taking sea creatures, presumably dead, into changing rooms of various chain clothing retailers and photographing them with her Yashica T4 (the same point-and-shoot analog camera used by Terry Richardson). In Cubicles Hard Mag Fenwicks (One), 2005, the only piece

  • Jane Jin Kaisen, Reiterations of Dissent, 2011–16, 8-channel HD video, color and black-and-white, sound, 78 minutes.
    July 17, 2020

    “Jane Jin Kaisen: Community of Parting”

    Curated by Henriette Bretton-Meyer

    During the twentieth century, Jejudo, a Korean island (do) and former independent kingdom, was annexed by the Japanese, then underwent US and Korean military rule, which led to the formal separation of the island and the south of the peninsula from its northern half. Protesting the occupation and desiring unification, local organizers staged an armed uprising in Jejudo on April 3, 1948. In response, far-right Korean forces killed an estimated 10 percent of the island’s civilian population of three hundred thousand. The Korean War followed. Born in Jejudo in 1980

  • View of “Merlin Carpenter,” 2020.

    Merlin Carpenter

    During the opening of his second presentation at Reena Spaulings Fine Art in 2007, Merlin Carpenter painted invectives such as DIE COLLECTOR SCUM and I HATE YOU THE ART WORLD YOU CUNTS onto canvases. At his 2011 show at Berlin’s MD 72, only those who were willing to pay 5,000 euros were allowed to view the art. For a 2017 show of paintings at Simon Lee Gallery in London, Carpenter contractually bound buyers of his works to keep them wrapped up until the year 2081. His art, depending on who you ask, is either willingly naive, deeply cynical, or the real thing. For his fifth outing at Reena

  • Hwayeon Nam, Dancer from the Peninsula, 2019, multichannel video installation, color, sound, dimensions variable. Photo: GIM IKHYUN. Courtesy of Hongcheon-gun.
    interviews April 28, 2020

    Hwayeon Nam

    Over the past eight years, the Korean artist Hwayeon Nam has explored social and historical choreography and temporal reroutings of archives through the figure of Seunghee Choi (1911–1969). A pioneer of modern Korean dance and a national icon whose life and career were marked by colonial occupations, clashing ideologies, and peninsular war, Choi was born the year after Japan annexed Korea. She studied dance in Tokyo at age fourteen and later toured internationally, counting among her audience and admirers figures such as Charlie Chaplin, Jean Cocteau, Yukio Mishima, and Pablo Picasso. Choi’s

  • Still from Leslie Thornton’s Peggy and Fred in Hell: Folding, 2016, 16 mm, black-and-white, sound, 95 minutes.
    interviews April 16, 2020

    Leslie Thornton

    “There are no other people in the world. Something has happened to them, but Peggy and Fred are unconcerned . . . They are adrift in the detritus of prior cultures, cast loose in a world of post-apocalyptic splendor. And they also watch television . . . This constitutes their idea of the Social.” This is how Leslie Thornton describes her epic cinematic series “Peggy and Fred in Hell,” which she has repeatedly edited and reassembled from 1983 to 2016. Thornton’s five-decade output is similarly elliptical and self-theorizing, drawing from shot and found footage, text, and archival material to

  • Conrad Ventur, barbara 2, 2020, digital C-print, 30 × 20".

    Conrad Ventur

    “This is a tough town. And if you’re not standing on something solid, you’re gonna get pushed over.” Thus spake the photographer and filmmaker Conrad Ventur on his decision to become a gardener in The Internship, 2018–19, a forty-four-minute video that was the fulcrum of his show, “A Green New Deal,” at Participant Inc. After fifteen years of being on what he calls “the artist roller coaster . . . lots of money and then no money, and then more no money. And then more more no money”—and working as an archivist and editor to support his artmaking—Ventur began taking night classes in horticulture

  • Seeun Kim, Pothole Calling to, 2018, water-mixable oil on canvas, 78 3⁄4 × 70 7⁄8".

    Seeun Kim

    The sixteen canvases making up Seeun Kim’s exhibition “Pitman’s Choice” evoked both the sea and the city, marked as they were with bleeding curves that suggested overpasses, bridges, and dunes, perpetually fusing and confusing the biomorphic and geometric. The thirty-year-old Korean painter’s palette of beach-house colors—tortoise shell, cabbage white, greens the shade of hedges—further jumbled the stairs, tunnels, and passageways of urban vistas with those of an architecture of the emotions. Scale became hard to gauge. The central mass in the earth-toned Leftover, 2017, could have been a root

  • Draft rendering of the third floor for Bunny Rogers’s 2020 four-level exhibition at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria.

    Bunny Rogers

    Curated by Thomas D. Trummer

    Inside a folder labeled LAMB GRAVES on Bunny Rogers’s website everybodydiesbut.me is a seven-page spreadsheet that lists burial sites of children (BABES, OUR DARLING). Most entries include a thumbnail photo of the tombstone, its inscription (JUST ASLEEP, AT REST), the year of death, and the location. Elsewhere, in a folder called alternately IN HEALTH and HELL, Rogers has posted an obituary-like portrait of herself as a teenager. An expired countdown clock on her main site, meryn.ru, once ticked off the hours until Rogers would outlive those in the “27 Club,” including

  • Dan Mitchell at Ludlow 38. Photo: Yair Oelbaum.
    diary December 19, 2019

    Scene and Held

    PRICED OUT OF THE LES, Ludlow 38 will shutter indefinitely. By now, this is too familiar a story to really be anything beyond a bummer, so last Thursday, on the night of the crushing UK elections, some friends of the gallery gathered to toast it goodbye at Nublu Classic, the Alphabet City bar. Guests of the “Too Faust Too Furious” party were variously scrounging for drink tickets and fretting about getting canceled in Texte Zur Kunst; Marie Karlberg was valiantly fighting a hangover from her opening at Tramps the night prior, which featured a sizable chunk of art-world players playing (basically)