gohyang:home is the third edition of Seoul Museum of Art’s exhibition series “Approaching the Non-West.” The inaugural exhibition in 2015 focused on Africa, followed in 2017 by a focus on Latin America; in 2019, gohyang: home presents contemporary art from the Middle East and Arab world, a region in which memories persist of South Korean construction companies that developed buildings, roads, port facilities, power facilities and telecom infrastructures from the 1970s onward. Today, news reports on the disparate conflicts in this part of the world constantly remind us of the complexity of the region’s socio-historical background. South Korea experienced the current global refugee crisis beginning in 2018, with the arrival on Jeju Island of around 500 Yemeni citizens through the visa-free entry system. The South Korean public hastily leapt to fearful conclusions about these new arrivals, inspired by growing populist anti-refugee rhetoric abroad: fragments of impressions about strangers whom we will never know, although we may misunderstand what we do and do not know.
The exhibition consists of four parts presented across two floors of Seoul Museum of Art. To begin, “Memorial Structure,” deals with the specific conflict between Palestine and Israel as well as the present difficulties, through photographic documentary, archival image of personal memory, multimedia installation based on private experience and questions of our perceptions and beliefs toward conditions in the Arab world. The exhibition’s second part, “What Makes Us,” examines how we register collective bonds from the dimension of ritual practice, understood as a measure of sentiment for a certain idealism that fulfills feelings of loss or lack evoked within the axis of grand time called history. As such, this ritualistic sense of connection could be seen as “an imagined value,” constructed afterwards out of yearning for something that never existed. “Storytelling as Silence,” the exhibition’s third part, presents a series of narratives by different artists that assert a contemporaneity which manifests itself as a new origin of existence. The exhibition concludes with “(un)home” dealing with the experience of something that is strangely familiar, and offering the potential to go further into a hope or treatment for recovery from loss and dismay.
Art seeks for new methods of weaving together promised or unpromised time in a meaningful way. Accordingly, gohyang:home introduces the diversity of artistic practices from the Middle East and Arab world, encourages participation in sympathy that could be imagined from a Korean perspective and pursues clues that enables us to relate to each other. The title gohyang:home indicates the geographical sense of a hometown in Korean, while expanding to a virtual world where one can overcome the feeling of loss and exclusion; it also represents an impulse to settle down, vague sensibilities of nostalgia and longing, and inevitably, an imperfect logic.
Invited artists and contributors: Adel Abidin, Ahlam Shibli, Amer Shomali, Hazem Harb, Jinjoo Kim, Jumana Emil Abboud, Khadim Ali, Minha Park, Mona Hatoum, Mounira Al Solh, Onejoon Che, Raed Ibrahim, Wael Shawky, ACC Film and Video Archive Collection, George M. Al A'ma Collection and Khalid Shoman Video Collection (Darat al Funun)