The Art of Dissonance: Part of UK/Korea 2017—18 Creative Futures

SeMA, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul , South Korea
12 Sep 2017 - 12 Nov 2017

John Akomfrah, The Unfinished Conversation (still), 2012. © John Akomfrah / Smoking Dogs Films.

John Akomfrah, The Unfinished Conversation (still), 2012. © John Akomfrah / Smoking Dogs Films.

On the occasion of UK/Korea 2017—18 Creative Futures, Seoul Museum of Art presents The Art of Dissonance, an exhibition assembling artworks drawn mainly from the British Council Collection.

Using the framework of “dissonance,” the exhibition unfolds through a set of interrelated movements: social protest, public assembly, class formation and political struggle. In a year that has seen many people participate in rallies and marches across the world, this exhibition considers how we express ourselves whether it be collectively or individually; how our voices give shape to society; and how artists articulate responses to the pressing social issues of our time. The Art of Dissonance explores current realities via artworks from the British Council Collection to create a “dissonant space” with an exhibition format.

John Akomfrah’s The Unfinished Conversation, shown in Korea here for the first time, chronicles the life and work of Jamaican-born cultural theorist Stuart Hall. In this work, Akomfrah interweaves Hall’s biography with charged political moments from recent British history, including the struggles of the working class and the exclusion of black artists from established cultural institutions—these themes are also explored in the work of Lubaina Himid and Mona Hatoum.

Also debuting in Korea, Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane’s Folk Archive contains over 280 cultural artefacts and social documents, producing an “unauthorised” catalogue of British life as practiced by individuals and communities across the UK. Photographs by Martin Parr, Paul Graham and Gillian Wearing provide insight into the different ways that class has been experienced and political division negotiated in Britain’s recent history. Grayson Perry’s Comfort Blanket questions what it means to be British today using everyday sayings and symbols; Mark Wallinger’s Royal Ascot delves into an ongoing preoccupation with royalty, nationalism and class hierarchy; and Samson Kambalu’s improvised film works seek to escape the conventions of daily life.

Artworks within the exhibition are fragments in an unfinished story that can be argued and interpreted from the perspectives of the social and political challenges we face today. Shifting political borders, the rise of populist movements and the corporatisation of education; these are just a few of the urgent social issues at stake in the work of Cally Spooner, Wolfgang Tillmans, Rachel Maclean, Bob and Roberta Smith and Ed Hall. Placards and banners from political protests, past and present, occupy the gallery, signalling a call to action to make our own voice heard. This exhibition calls upon the strategies and insights offered by artists to articulate a ‘space of dissonance’ as a model of action in everyday life.

The exhibition is accompanied by an experimental public programme of talks and events convened around the organising principle of “the square” understood as a civic space where a multitude of voices emerge and contest differing ideas of community.

Artists: John Akomfrah, Jeremy Deller & Alan Kane, Paul Graham, Ed Hall, Mona Hatoum, Lubaina Himid, Samson Kambalu, Rachel Maclean, Martin Parr, Grayson Perry, Bob and Roberta Smith, Cally Spooner, Wolfgang Tillmans, Mark Wallinger and Gillian Wearing

Opening: September 12, 5pm


Public programmes

“Self-directed Guide” by Okin Collective (Joungmin Yi and Shiu Jin)
Every day during the exhibition

“Square Seminar: Forum for Artistic Practice, Participation and Intervention”
Soohyun Koo, Kwon Hyuk-bin, Park Daham, Somi Sim, Choi Binna and led by Lee Hanbum
Three times during the exhibition

Talks by artists Lubaina Himid, Alan Kane, Ed Hall

Lectures by Jade Keunhye Lim, Head of Exhibitions, Seoul Museum of Art, Prof. Shan Lim, Dongduk Women’s University and Changryul Yang, Researcher in Philosophy, John Reardon and Michael Dutton, Goldsmiths College, University of London.

Organised by Seoul Museum of Art in partnership with the British Council
Curated by Gahee Park (Seoul Museum of Art) in association with Claire Feeley (British Council)



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