SeMA's first floor filled with voices of the voiceless

By Shim Woo-hyun
  • Published : Jul 1, 2018 - 15:29
  • Updated : Jul 1, 2018 - 15:43

Voices of the oppressed and marginalized from around the world fill the Seoul Museum of Art in downtown Seoul.

A cacophony of sounds from different video and installation works startle the visitors entering the building. The dissonant mixture of sounds is a choir of the voiceless, who speak through works of art.

The ongoing exhibition, “Voiceless: Return of the Foreclosed,“ has on display some 30 works by seven artists from home and abroad, featuring various social problems that surround us but are not easily discernable to the uninitiated. 

cap - A scene from Erkan Ozgen‘s 2016 video work “Wonderland” that features Muhammed -- a child from northern Syria, who has a hearing and speech disorder -- describing what he witnessed while escaping from ISIS with body gestures. (SeMA)

Im Heung-soon, the winner of the 2015 Silver Lion at the Venice Biennale, presents a total of 15 works based on research and interviews with Vietnam War veterans which he started in 2004.

Im's works are introduced in two separate sections. One section is dedicated to showing his previous video works concerning the Vietnam War, the second installment of the ”Reborn“ series and the first and second episodes of the "Dream" series. The other section presents his three installation works that use video projections, paper sculptures and the shadows created from the two mediums. 

cap - Korean artist Im Heung-soon’s “The Miracle of Han River” (SeMA)

Artist Song Sang-hee, the winner of 2017 Korea Artist Prize awarded by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, exhibits two works at the show. ”Memento Mori,” a spinning installation in which human-shaped laser-cut wooden pieces move around with lighting at the center, creates shadows all around.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a video work filmed at a train station called Kigoma in Tanzania, which is juxtaposed against the performance of a ballet by the same title, choreographed by George Balanchine, to the music of the same title by German composer Mendelssohn, highlights the train station built during the German colonial period. The work purports to tackle the long-lasting impact of the colonial period and slave trade.

SeMa‘s latest exhibition also features works of Kurdish-Iraqi artist Hiwa K, who earned international recognition with his work “When We Were Exhaling Images” at last year‘s Documenta 14, held in Kassel, Germany. Other participating artists include Erkan Ozgen, Chang Seo-young, Cho Eun-ji and Hong Soun, whose works also deal with social issues and unheard narratives.

The exhibition runs through Aug.15.

By Shim Woo-hyun (