This fall, Kumho Museum of Art presents Waterscapes: The Politics of Water. This new project on water is developed out of the 2013 Nomadic Residency to India, and its offshoot, the Water Bodies exhibition in Chennai. Curator Hyewon Lee (Daejin University) proposes a far-reaching examination of the multifaceted subject of water and the immeasurable significance of discussions being held globally on issues such as; the increasing concerns worldwide about potable water supplies; the role of water as an object of conflict and in the definition of territory, borders and national statehood and the anxieties raised by the increasing appearance in the past decade of water-generated natural disasters.
With the aim of extending the public understanding of the vital implications of this subject, Waterscapes approaches its theme by connecting media art, a genre that could be as fluid and as far-reaching as water, to critical eco-political issues of today. From video art to documentary films and to the works created using new media technologies - such as GPS, the internet, interactive art, biotechnology, data visualization programming - included in this show will illustrate the extent to which diverse disciplines and fields of research have converged in current art practices, and reveal how new forms of contemporary artistic expression can be developed through the emerging technological and media platforms available to artists today. By contending with complex socio- political issues surrounding water, the invited artists will cast lights on the persistence of global capital, personal limits of pursuing freedom, or the basic conditions needed for human survival and reveal how artistic and social systems converge in their investigative process.
Among the featured artists, is Ricardo Dominguez, who connects new media to our lives through the 'Trans-border Migrant Tool': a mobile application invented by the artist that provides GPS information along with the location of water for Mexican immigrants who attempt to cross the border through the harsh desert, Eve Mosher, who walks around the coastal area of south Manhattan and draws a chalk line that follows a particular elevation that will be submerged under water when climate change accelerates, documenting various dialogues that occur in the process and presenting them as an open-source; Alfredo Jaar, who with his installation about Koko, Nigeria, one of the dumpsites for toxic industrial waste from the so-called developed countries, invites the viewer to become aware of his or her own position as a citizen of the world; Suyeon Yun, whose documentary investigates the complex chains of 'drinking water' including the actual condition of its origin, its circulation in the 'water market' and consumer's class from arctic glacial water served for VIP's in membership based sports clubs and water bars led by water sommeliers,
to the green tide appearing in Korea's four major rivers that are indefinitely neglected.
Waterscapes also recasts the Maldives pavilion of the 2013 Venice Biennale, which presented the Maldives archipelago under the theme of 'Portable Nation'.The ecological approach of this initiative produced a series of environmental investigations on the cultural frames that interpret nature, with the aim of bringing attention to the crisis of this nation's disappearance as a result of the rise in sea levels. For the Kumho Museum of Art, Khaled Ramadan (LB/DK) - original
curator of the pavilion and co-curator Melina Nicolaides (CY/USA), founders of the Cyprus-based collaborative White Chamber Project, reframe this presentation with new works under the title "Outflow: The Remix".
This new presentation re-proposes a collection of projects that seek to establish how nature can be seen as a set of environmental ethics that can direct our awareness to the social and political milieu within which human beings become more acutely aware of the world. More specifically, this proposal is firmly positioned behind the belief that the element of water holds not only a dynamic and essential place in nature, but can be identified as a fundamental motivation behind movements for change around the world within these times of crisis in which we live. In this section
of the exhibition, seven international artists are invited to contribute film works related specifically to the subject of water, bringing focus to some of the issues, concerns, and concepts that originate from this source. The videos and films independently address a variety of current debates: environmental politics, climate change regulations, the notion of nation-state as defined by international sea laws, the process of preservation, environmental events related to social and cultural life and also to the fundamental essence of water as a representation and metaphor of the human spirit. Hyewon Lee, Curator
Water Matters: Films on water from India, presented by InKo Centre in association with The Voices from the Waters Festival, the Bangalore Film Society and Deep Focus Cinema, will complement the Waterscapes exhibition in Seoul.
The Whistle Blowers, Directed by Umesh Aggarwal, 2005 Duration: 45 mins.
The film is an investigation on pesticides in bottled water and soft drinks manufactured in India by reputed multi-national companies, as revealed in a report by the Centre for Science and Environment.
Pyaasi-The Story of Mother River, Directed by Harsha Prabhakar Rao, 2010 Duration: 3 mins.
A seven–year-old girl sets out to fetch water for her brother. She goes in search of water from one known source to another. On a constant rollercoaster ride of expectations and disappointments, she has to travel a long distance, discover truths, face temptations and brave odds before she finds water.
Breaking News, Directed by Dr.Savita Aggarwal, 2013 Duration: 15 mins.
Climate change is a reality affecting the lives and livelihoods of people across the globe. The poor, most of whom reside in the developing world, suffer the most because of their limited capacity to adapt to such changes. Women are the most affected because of their traditional responsibilities associated with food, fodder, fibre and fuel. This video puppet film is an important step in providing information on the effects of climate change across a wide cross-section of people of different age groups and educational levels.
The Holy Water, Directed by Lotta Ekelunnd, 2009 Duration: 23 mins.
As cola companies deplete and pollute essential ground water, strong feminine voices rise in protest. And while they are successful in shutting down a cola plant, the film debates the larger and ever-more-pertinent question of our age- Whose water? And to whom does it rightfully belong?
Sadanand Menon from Chennai has been invited to Seoul to talk on "Water Politics and the Politics of Art" at the symposium organised in conjunction with the exhibition. Sadanand Menon is a nationally reputed arts editor, popular teacher of cultural journalism, photographer, stage lights designer and prolific speaker at seminars on politics, ecology and the arts. He is currently Adjunct Faculty, Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, and at IIT, Madras and is a member, Apex Advisory Committee, National Museum, Delhi; Advisory Committee, National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru; Advisory Council, Lalit Kala Akademi, Delhi; Governing Council, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla; and Managing Trustee, SPACES, an Arts Foundation, Chennai.
Kumho Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea
Dates: 15 November - 24 December 2014
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