“Arirang Grace – Between Dislocation and Settlement” curated by Inhee Iris Moon
“Arirang Grace – Between Dislocation and Settlement” is a mixed media exhibition of Korean contemporary art showcasing 16 artists and one composer who are Korean born but live and work in three different countries namely, South Korea, North Korea, and America. The exhibition brings artists from three different national, geographical, and cultural backgrounds whose relationship to or more precisely whose sense of belonging to Korea may vary from one another. Under one giant umbrella of a new and re-connected Korea, albeit it still has not been realized, Arirang Grace provides a fractal facet of what might be considered as contemporary Korean art with emphasis on the notions of nomadic wanderings and the settlements. By presenting plural Korean experiences through creative expressions of the artists, and by searching for the common grounds where the disparate cultures collide and mingle, Arirang Grace conveys that the Korean-ness or Korean art for that matter is not a monolithically defined concept but is a fluid, layered, and morphing notion which is constantly evolving and expanded; it is much like the notions of Arirang and Grace themselves. The artists’ subjects range from small experiences of everyday life both in their homeland and bright and dark memories of Korean society and history. Through the work, the artists offer commentary on the issues of representation (identities) as well as on their psychosocial and economical cultural conflicts, struggles, and (dis)connections (identifications) to a dual or multiple traditions, and to the resistance and mutative nature of those cultural customs and merits attached to traditions. By addressing viewer’s attention to a major diplomatic breakthrough in April 18 as North and South Korea signed the Panmunjeom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula, it is our hope that the current peace and reconciliation movement will lead to an eventual Korean reunification.