Critics’ Picks

Young Joon Kwak, Herma Herculine, 2017, pigmented plaster, resin, MDF, 41 x 16 x 18".

Young Joon Kwak, Herma Herculine, 2017, pigmented plaster, resin, MDF, 41 x 16 x 18".

Los Angeles

Young Joon Kwak

Commonwealth and Council
3006 West 7th Street, Suite 220
May 13–June 24, 2017

In ancient Greece, the gods were worshipped via heaps of rocks left on the sides of roads. These rocks were anointed with oil and adorned with wreaths to act as wards against evil. Perhaps desiring a hint of the human in their divine icons, the Greeks transformed these piles into polished blocks of stones, topped with carved heads and accessorized with male and/or female genitals, a gender stuck to an ambiguous base. They called this new form Herma, Greek for “rock.” It is from this tradition that Young Joon Kwak’s multimedia exhibition springs forth.

Working in plaster, resin, and metal, rather than the historically weighted sculptural medium of marble, Kwak mutilates the form of the Herma and disorients the viewer through unconventional and dispersed placements, as in Vaginal Canal Growths (all works 2017), which drips from the ceiling. A shattered disco ball titled Brown Rainbow Eclipse Explosion rotates to the beat of a slow jam. Like any good reveler, Kwak knows the best celebrations include friends—sound work by Marvin Astorga provides a lucubratory accompaniment, and the entry room’s installation of black foam-stuffed bags and waterfall vaginas are a collaboration with Corazon del Sol. The effect is a surreal dance party on an Octavia Butler–esque moon surrounded by all your queer friends. The works here are gooey and carnal—embedded figures wrench out of the stiff forms that attempt to contain them in Hermaphroditus’s Reveal II and Herma Herculine. Clearly, these are objects to pay service to and which ache for a touch of the divine.