Critics’ Picks

Je Hoon Oh, Untangling the Memory, 2010, wool, 10 x 6 x 11”.

Je Hoon Oh, Untangling the Memory, 2010, wool, 10 x 6 x 11”.


“Nanugi Agency”

Art + Lounge Dibang
435 Pyungchang-dong, Jongro-gu
August 31–October 1, 2010

Presenting work by nine artists, one of whom also acts as a curator, this exhibition is based on the premise of an imaginary company called the Nanugi Agency, which provides creative solutions for sharing property between former spouses or siblings quarreling over inheritances. According to the narrative whimsically laid out in the accompanying catalogue, the objects on display belong to a recently divorced couple, Mooyoung and Ami Kim, the agency’s first clients, and the installation aims to be read as an advertisement of sorts. The catalogue refers to the artists as “researchers,” each tackling a specific project of divvying up one of the Kims’ possessions that have great sentimental value.

The works include kinetic sculpture, installation, and painting, and while there is a range of conceptual and formal styles among the nine participants, everything seems to be anchored in the accompanying commentaries printed in the text that appears to be an integral part of the show. These explain the nature of each challenge. In the case of “Researcher 04,” aka Je Hoon Oh, a sweater Ami knitted for Mooyoung is untangled in front of Ami as an “untangling of memory” performance, then wound up into a ball of wool for her to keep. The husband is subsequently provided with a drawing of him wearing the sweater.

Although reminiscent of Ilya Kabakov’s social imaginarium, the artists of the Nanugi Agency take their production a step further by maintaining both fantasy and verisimilitude. Their impish solutions provide just the right measure of absurdity without undermining the existent and painful predicament of separation. The venue for the show is equally perfect: It is set up in and around a former family home altered to accommodate a recently opened art foundation, bringing the life-to-art transformation full circle.