만능벽 2014, 두산큐레이터 워크숍 기획전, 본업 – 생활하는 예술가
목재, 알루미늄, 싱글채널 비디오
122cm x 244cm, 1920 x 1080 24p, 6 min 25 sec
Multi – use wall 2014, Doosan curator workshop exhibition, Mixed media
만 능 벽
“Exhibition design” is understanding and interpreting the concept of an exhibition and its artworks; consideringflow of viewers; and finally, designing and fabricating the objects, free-standing walls, and other structures that each individual work requires. One could say that this work is helping curators and artists, but in a way, it is closer to the work of technician.
While performing exhibition design/construction here and there in galleries and art museums, I came to realize that this “work,” which allows me to survive, derives from the peculiar labor establishment of Korean art institutions. Most art institutions in Korea hardly ever acknowledge hiring “technician-exhibition engineers.” I would say that they are rather stingy when it comes to “direct employment.” Overseas art museums of a scale comparable to Korean art institutions retain exhibition engineers or day laborers who have worked together with the museum for a long time (mostly local artists) in numbers that are commensurateto, or even exceed, the number of curators. In comparison, Korean art museums employ no more than one technician. Meanwhile, the curators, worn thin by heavy workloads, are unable to perform simple tasks such as hanging picture frames, hammering nails, or patching holes in walls; as a result, they hire outside services to take care of these difficult problems. Thanks to these circumstances, I came to sustain my livelihood by designing and producing free- standing walls, pedestals, and furniture for other artists’ works, and by performing exhibition installation on behalf of other artists. Although it is an interesting and rewarding job, I am seized with the equivocal feelings that emerge from my position in between two seemingly conflicting jobs—a maker of art and a supporting laborer for other artists’ exhibitions.
In the past, I wanted to keep my life and art completely separate, so I tried to hide my awkward survival behind inconsequential artworks. Even now, after I have coolly arranged my artwork and my life on separate, parallel tracks, I sometimes feel an involuntary shudder. I echo my words while exchanging jokes with my coworkers (who are mostly artists) at our job sites:
“we are people that do...what?,” “art as a hobby,”and “what the hell is art?”
I still don’t know what my day job is, nor do I knowwhat my side job is. The tedious work that I have been perpetually repeating to make money is my day job, and the one thing that I have set my heart on, but haven’t been able to achieve, is my side job. When all is said and done, having “two jobs” or “three jobs” is not only a reality for artists, but also a reality for all who live in the midst of this seesawing labor market.