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  • Jan 25, 2018

Song Sanghee Wins Korea Artist Prize 2017

Portrait of SONG SANGHEE. Courtesy the artist and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul.

On January 24, Amsterdam-based multimedia artist Song Sanghee was announced as the winner of the 2017 edition of the Korea Artist Prize. The artist, known for her socially engaged work, was chosen among a shortlist of four artists whose creations have been on display at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (MMCA) since September 13, 2017. The other three finalists included Kelvin Kyung Kun Park, who works with film and installation; musician and multimedia artist Bek Hyunjin; and painter Sunny Kim.

Song presented her chilling new work Come Back Alive Baby (2017), a three-channel video comprised of a collage of text and imagery—from film documentation recorded at sites of manmade disasters where the artist travelled to over the course of four years, archival footage from World War II, to her own surrealistic drawings. The ominous work reminds viewers of recent tragic histories that continue to repeat themselves. On the other end of the exhibition gallery was the installation This is the way the world ends not with a bang but a whimper (2017), which is composed of wall-mounted, blue-and-white ceramic titles of her hand-drawn depictions of five explosions. Also embedded into the museum’s walls were speakers playing a recording of greetings in various languages. In a public statement, the jury said, “Song had delicately presented the tragic histories of modern societies with fables and careful arrangement of multi-layered research and interviews.”

This is the sixth edition of the Korea Artist Prize. It is jointly organized by MMCA and the cultural unit of Seoul Broadcasting System, SBS Foundation, that was established in 2012 to nurture visionary artists working in South Korea. The nominated artists are given KRW 40 million (USD 37,600) each in sponsorship from the SBS foundation, and the final winner receives an additional KRW 10 million (USD 9,440).  In addition to the cash prize, SBS will produce and air a documentary on Song Sanghee and her work. 

The jury members of the 2017 Korea Artist Prize is composed of the director of MMCA, Bartomeu Marí; Jessica Morgan, director of the Dia Art Foundation in New York; art historian and curator Kim Hong-Hee; and Philippe Pirotte, director of Staatliche Hochschule für Künste Stadelschule and Portikus in Frankfurt.

Along with the announcement of Song’s award was the shortlist for the 2018 Korea Artist Prize nominees: Koo Minja, Okin Collective, Jeong Eun Young and Jeong Jaeho. Their works will be on view at MMCA Seoul in August 2018.

Elaine W. Ng is the chief editor and publisher of ArtAsiaPacific.

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