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Exhibition Review

Young In Hong shares spiritual boundaries with nature at PKM Gallery, Seoul

Sanghee Kim

Feb 18, 2022

Young In Hong
Thi and Anjan, 2021
Click on the image for the individual dimensions of the sculptures. 
Sound duration: 14 mins 8 secs 
Courtesy of the artist and PKM Gallery, Seoul



Young In Hong opened PKM Gallery's first exhibition of 2022 with We Where, presenting eight new works in the main gallery space and two photo-score series in the annex (PKM+), which were made in 2017. We Where is Hong’s first solo show since the artist was included in the prestigious award exhibition, Korea Artist Prize 2019 at MMCA (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea) in Seoul; for a major part of her presentation Hong explored the way humans embody ever intensifying social inequality by studying how birds communicate. We Where continues to consider our perspective in the bigger context of nature thorugh diverse mediums including installation, embroidery, and sound.  


Upon entering the main gallery space, the audience is welcomed by subtle sound installation on the left and a mixture of installation on the right. The sound installation quietly bleeds into the rest of the space while admiring mostly gorilla themed artworks including intricate embroidery piece, One Gate between Two Worlds (2021), which every inch of almost three by three meters of the work is stitched with viscose rayon threads. The gorillas on embroidery rug canvas seem like they are where they don’t belong, perhaps a zoo, as they look back at the audience with peculiar gaze. 


Following the sound, the audience encounter Thi and Anjan (2021), an eight-piece sculpture with sound that occupies the entire room. The straw woven shoes for grandmother and granddaughter elephants were made in collaboration with masters of straw craft Chung Kyung Lee and Yeon Hwa Park; accompanied by sound produced in collaboration with electronic musician Miles Otto and Andrew Neil Hayes on the saxophone. The scene reminds the audience of a communal living environment where folk music is playing while craft making is going on, all the while surrounded by nature. Leaving the main gallery to take the short walk to the annex, the relaxing yet lively sound of Thi and Anjan in their habitat quietly drums in the ears.


At the annex, artworks across different mediums are carefully planned around the space. Most works were made in 2017 and they are about postwar Korea during the modernisation period of the country, where corruption and human rights issues related to working conditions were troubling the nation. Looking Down from the Sky (2017) reflects on the individual stories from the past by shedding light on the marginalised voices, setting a tone for the rest of the artworks. The work was also performed in 2017 at Korean Cultural Center in London, which is accessible via a QR code; the silhouette drawings that were embroidered on cotton as scores were played by six vocalists and musicians while Hong performed on the sewing machine. 


There are other works in the exhibition including the Prayers series (2017), and Colourful Land (An Homage to Robert Morris) (2021), which with the rest of the exhibition speaks volume with multiple yet unified message, that functioning communities are more important than ever, considering what has gone on at a global scale due to the pandemic. We Where makes bold statements about the value of caring for the society with precisely curated aesthetics. The subject of communities Hong refers to does not remain in the perimeter of the humans but extends to the spiritual boundaries we share with animals and plants in nature. 



Young In Hong's We Where at PKM Gallery, Seoul is availabe to view on eazel's VR Exhibition, which includes sounds installations for both Thi and Anjan (2021) and Looking Down from the Sky (2017).