Landscapes from Pyongyang at Galerie Son in Berlin


Joo Jong Hwan, Keum Kang Mountain


Exhibitions of North Korean art are generally few and far between but may be becoming less so. One of the most well-known North Korean defector, artist Song Byeok, flips his North Korean artistic training which emphasized state propaganda into satirical images of Kim Jong Il. Unlike Byeok’s artwork, the work exhibited at Galerie Son is generally idealistic landcapes created by artists who live in North Korea. Read more about the exhibition in a review on the gallery website. This exhibition was brought to my attention via Art Daily.

Quick thoughts on critics

This post is inspired by  Dwight Garner‘s “A Critic’s Case for Critics” on New York Times from August 15, 2012. 

Criticism seems to have a bad reputation these days, I for one, think that it is important and necessary but doesn’t need to be done by shredding the subject to bits. Garner focuses on the literary but to me his words apply to cultural criticism in general.

Garner references a Dave Eggers quotation from 2000, “Do not be critics, you people, I beg you. I was a critic, and I wish I could take it all back, because it came from a smelly and ignorant place in me and spoke with a voice that was all rage and envy. Do not dismiss a book until you have written one, and do not dismiss a movie until you have made one, and do not dismiss a person until you have met them. It is a [expletive] of work to be open-minded and generous and understanding and forgiving and accepting, but Christ, this is what matters. What matters is saying yes.”

My response to Eggers’ notion is twofold: 1) I agree with Garner’s position that, “Eggers is arguing in uplifting tones for mass intellectual suicide. When a work of art makes you feel or think things, he suggests, keep those things to yourself.”  2) On the other hand, Eggers speaks to one of my personal quandaries with criticism personally and professionally. I do believe that one needs to have first hand experience working with artistic media to be able to truly understand the essence. One of my strengths as a writer is guiding the viewer to see the intricacies of a work–I came to that because I am an artist.

On the inside

Bodies with exposed anatomy  by Koen Hauser via Design Boom

You know I have a fascination/love/reverence for bodies but do you know why? During the summer of 2002 I spent a month at Brown University taking a course exploring being a doctor. Yes, I wanted to be a doctor. Part of the course was spending a day looking at cadavers–I fell in love, they practically had to drag me away. Seeing the inside of the body is incredibly surreal but also incredibly humanizing. Though my time at Brown was not the only catalyst for my life long love of the “art and bodies” combo, it did play a leading role.