Siren Eun Young Jung Wins Korea Artist Prize 2018
By Julee WJ Chung
On September 19, siren eun young jung was announced winner of the 2018 Korea Artist Prize. The Seoul-based multimedia artist, whose work probes queer artistic practices and identity politics through in-depth ethnographic research, was selected after an exhibition featuring all four prize finalists—including Minja Gu, Jae Ho Jung and Okin Collective—opened at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) in Seoul as per the award’s annual tradition. Jung will take away a cash prize of KRW 10 million (USD 9,000), in addition to the initial KRW 40 million (USD 36,000) that was given to each shortlisted artist.
In the exhibition at MMCA, jung presented six new works alongside films, archives and installations created over the last decade, which draw from her research tracing the forgotten narratives surrounding Yeoseong Gukgeuk—a Korean all-female theatre genre that was popular in the 1950s and ’60s. Among her new standout works was the video Deferral Archive (2018), which focused on signed and framed photographs of former yeoseong gukgeuk actresses and footage of their performances, demonstrating jung’s strength in uncovering historical narratives and pushing the potential of historical documents and archives as a creative medium. Suzanne Cotter, chair of the jury and director of Mudam Luxembourg, said: "Siren Eun Young Jung stands out for her attempt to borrow the form of contemporary art to deal with disappearing traditional arts, and her interpretation of the state of gender identity in the form of staged art.” Previously, jung has exhibited her works widely, including at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art in Singapore, Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the 11th Gwangju Biennale.
Initiated in 2012, the Korea Artist Prize aims to foster and support the development of local emerging artists. Besides Cotter, the jury committee includes MMCA director Bartomeu Mari; Sungwon Kim, artistic director of Asia Culture Center; Chunchen Wang, vice president of China’s Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum; and Cuauhtémoc Medina, chief curator of Mexico City’s University Museum of Contemporary Art and the 2018 Shanghai Biennale.
Past winners of the Korea Artist Prize include Song Sanghee in 2017, Mixrice in 2016, Inhwan Oh in 2015, Noh Suntag in 2014, Kong Sung-Hun in 2013, and Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho in 2012.
Julee WJ Chung is the assistant editor of ArtAsiaPacific.
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