Jang Min-Seung Wins 2014 Hermès Foundation Missulsang
By Jayoon Choi
On February 13, Korean artist Jang Min-Seung was announced winner of the 2014 Hermès Foundation Missulsang, an annual award recognizing an emerging Korean artist. Jang is known for his work across various disciplines including visual arts, music and furniture design. Voiceless (2014), his presentation for the award exhibition at Atelier Hermès, was an installation of two videos made in response to the Sewol Ferry disaster that happened in April 2014, where nearly 300 people—mostly high-school students—died when the boat capsized, resulting in South Korea’s worst civilian maritime disaster in 20 years.
Through Voiceless Jang addressed the societal burdens of a nation coming to terms with the consequential tragedies of sustained rapid growth. Pitch-dark (2014), a single-channel black-and-white video with music composed by Jung Jae Il, presents a performance based on the sign-language from excerpts of six haikus by the Japanese poet Tadatomo Jinno (1624–76). The accompanying single-channel video Snow We Saw (2014) captures the horizon of the sea before the ferry disaster.
Powerful yet restrained, Voiceless offered a common course for grief and psychological release. The judging committee lauded the work for its ability to express the emotionally charged themes in a delicate, artistic language that touched upon the heart of its viewers, and for Jang’s seamless command of several disciplines that were brought together in this work.
Alongside Jang, candidates for the 2014 Hermès Foundation Missulsang who were also featured in the award exhibition at Atelier Hermès were the Korean designer duo Sulki & Min, who exhibited their large-scale blurry print series “Technical Drawing” (2014), and Yeo Daham who presented his plaster-white wall installation of molds derived from everyday objects in Dead Fire (2014).
Judging this year’s prize was a five-member committee made up of Kong Sung-Hun (artist); Hong Seung-Hye (artist); Eungie Joo (curator of Sharjah Biennial 12); Alexis Vaillant (chief curator of the Contemporary Art Museum, Bordeaux); and Fang-Wei Chang (senior curator of Taipei Fine Arts Museum).
Established in 2000, the Hermès Foundation Missulsang is the first award of its kind by a foreign company in Korea. Starting from 2006, the nominated artists’ works were exhibited at Atelier Hermès located at Maison Hermès Dosan Park. In 2008, the award was relaunched as the current Hermès Foundation Missulsang, along with the inauguration of the Hermès Foundation.
Past award winners include: Chang Young-Hae (2000); Kim Beom (2001); Yiso Bahc (2002); Do Ho Suh (2003); Park Chan-Kyung (2004); Koo Jeong-A (2005); Minouk Lim (2006); Kim Sung Hwan (2007); Song Sanghee (2008); Park Yoon Young (2009); Yangachi (2010); Sangdon Kim (2011); Koo Donghee (2012); and siren eun young jung in 2013.