Hiji Nam

  • A work from Scott Lyall’s “Talents” series, at Miguel Abreu’s booth at Frieze. All photos by author.
    diary May 25, 2023

    No Agency

    LAST THURSDAY AFTERNOON, I waded through the throngs of tourists around the Vessel to meet my friend Anya Komar at the Shed for Frieze. Komar, formerly a long-time director and gallery partner of Miguel Abreu (she now runs Ulrik, in Chelsea), remembered how the fair at Randall’s Island always seemed on the brink of collapse—leaky ceilings, sweat, and broken ACs that transformed showrooms into saunas. No such discharge or human frailty at Hudson Yards; although the name of Frieze’s newish location suggests a messy outbuilding to store unused toys or dusty childhood trophies (OK, maybe not such

  • The poster for Seth Price’s show “Ardomancer.” Image: Petzel Gallery.
    diary April 28, 2023

    Price of Entry

    LAST FRIDAY AFTERNOON at David Zwirner, Benjamin Buchloh was heralding Gerhard Richter as the painter-inheritor of twentieth-century History. Then he added: “Will his paintings have lasting reverberations like the urinal? Probably not.” An ambivalent aperitif of a speech to kick off the evening. Later that night, around the corner at Petzel, Seth Price unveiled his large-scale paintings impeccably mixing 3-D graphics, abstraction, and AI-generated representation, in his first New York solo show in five years, only the second time in nearly a decade he’s exhibited new work. They looked small in

  • At the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s private event for Korean skincare brand Sulwhasoo. Photo: BFA.
    diary April 03, 2023

    Dendur Is the Night

    ON WEDNESDAY EVENING, the guards of Metropolitan Museum of Art wore orange to mark the museum’s yearlong partnership with Sulwhasoo, a Korean heritage beauty brand currently rolling out their amber-themed, Tilda Swinton–starring “I am Ginseng” campaign. Korakrit Arunanondchai appropriately wore a copper-toned, rhinestoned velour tracksuit, while artist Diane Severin Nguyen, Paris Review editor Olivia Kan-Sperling, and I had opted for black silk and ruffles with a dash of pink lip gloss, in honor of Sulwhasoo’s international ambassador Rosé, the mononymous star of BLACKPINK, the megawattage K-pop

  • 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