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Korea shows its contemporary face at LACMA

June 20, 2009 | 10:30 am

White House Jeon Joonho 

"Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists From Korea," opening June 28 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is loaded with surprises for those among the art crowd who haven't paid much attention to Korea. And that includes all too many of us.

Even Lynn Zelevansky, a widely traveled LACMA curator who organized the exhibition with Christine Starkman, curator of Asian art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, says that she was "absolutely not  aware" of South Korean contemporary art until she started thinking about a potential show.

Korea gallery "That was one of the things that started to interest me," she says. "I went there for the first time and thought, 'Why have I never thought about this place?' I felt that I was seeing a very credible, small but high-level, sophisticated art world and meeting really good artists." 

One of those she and Starkman selected is Jeon Joonho, whose 32-minute, 16-second digital animation, "The White House," is likely to raise a few eyebrows. As visitors watch the projected image of the famous building on the back of a $20 bill, they will see the artist erase its windows, one by one.

The work may appear to be an anti-American statement, but Jeon has denied that, describing himself as "a rather timid realist who's interested in expressing emptiness, meaninglessness." The figure erasing the windows is meant to personify "uselessness and forced labor."

For the full story about the exhibition, see Sunday's Arts & Books section, or click here.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

Photo: "The White House" by Jeon Joonho. Credit: Courtesy of the artist and Arario Gallery, Seoul.

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