Contrary to its nickname ‘hermit kingdom’ derived from William Elliot Griffis’ 1882 book Corea: The Hermit Nation, Korea has always held a pivotal position in East Asia, both politically and culturally. Its central location had a great impact on culture by facilitating a great deal of trade as well as cultural and artistic exchanges throughout its history.
More recently, a vibrant and dynamic contemporary art and cultural scene including Hallyu (or Korean wave) has emerged from South Korea and is attracting global attention. It is timely for Asian art lovers and historians to rediscover Korea, its history and the future it is forging.
Both professionally and personally, it is a great honour for me to be guest editor for TAASA’s Korea issue. Being Korean- Australian and curator of Asian arts for the last two decades, this issue has been a great opportunity for me to reflect on my role in between Korea, my heritage and Australia, my home.
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of bilateral relationship between Australia and South Korea, Powerhouse Museum hosts a major Korean exhibition titled Five Hundred
Arhats of Changnyeongsa Temple. On loan from the Chuncheon National Museum, these buddhist stone sculptures were first displayed for the public in 2018 in Korea and this is the first time they will be shown outside of Korea. My article introduces the exhibition, the discovery of the arhats unearthed in 2001/2002 and the history of the arhat cult in Korea.
Kim Sunjung, an internationally renowned curator who lives in South Korea introduces the curatorial intention of an exhibition Negotiating Borders, part of her long-standing initiative THE REAL DMZ PROJECT. It will be showcased at the Korean Cultural Centre in Sydney from January 2022. Kim explains the exhibition and project’s role in raising awareness of the division of Korea through the critical lens of contemporary art. It reminds us that Korea is still technically at war.
Jackie Menzies’s article provides a great insight into the development of Korean modern art through examining the painter Kim Whanki’s work and life. It gives an understanding of the historical and political circumstances that drove the artist’s creation of his avant-garde paintings. The author visited the Whanki Museum and learned more about this Korean painter when she participated in the Korea Foundation Curators’ Workshop in Seoul. This workshop program was an excellent example of a successful cultural exchange initiative that the Korean government provided over many years.
Soo-Min Shim is an emerging arts writer who is interested in the topic of transnational identity. Her article explores the works of Oh Haji, an artist with Korean heritage who was born in Japan and is practicing in Australia. The issues raised in the article will no doubt be understood by many artists of culturally diverse background.
Penny bailey, one of a few experts in Korean art history in Australia, eloquently writes about Goryeo celadon ware and its association with buddhism while John Freeland, collector and deep lover of Korean ceramics, introduces contemporary wood- fire ceramic artist Kwirak Choung, who is practicing in Little Hartley, NSW.
Reuben Keehan, curating the Korean art component of APT10 at QAGOMA., examines artist Minouk Lim’s works which confront social inequalities by combining public interventions with song. Heintroduces Lim’s O Tannenbaum which will be featured in APT10 this year.
Daina Fletcher’s article brings to light the unique culture of Korean women divers called Haenyeo (the sea women) on Jeju island and their incredible story. An exhibition held earlier this year at the Australian National Maritime Museum was a powerful visual presentation of these sea women.
Wayne Crothers presents some significant recent acquisitions of Korean works, including a chaekgeori painted screen, at the NGV. He discusses the history of collecting Korean material at the gallery and his research which has led him to rediscover some overlooked works and their fascinating stories.
Lastly, both Pippa Dickson, Director of Asialink Arts and Jihee Kim, Director of the Korean Cultural Centre Australia, who have been instrumental in facilitating cultural exchanges between Korea and Australia, stress again the importance of encouraging cross-cultural understanding and meaningful communication through people-to-people connection, flexibility and adaptation. I would like to congratulate the Korean Cultural Centre Australia which is celebrating its milestone 10th anniversary this year.
TAASA would like to wish its members and supporters all the very best for the Christmas holiday season, and we look forward to a full program of activities in 2022 – when we can hopefully meet face to face again.
3 EDITORIAL: KOREA - Min-Jung Kim, Guest Editor
4 FIVE HUNDRED ARHATS OF CHANGNYEONGSA TEMPLE: A POWERHOUSE MUSEUM EXHIBITION FROM KOREA - Min-Jung Kim
7 NEGOTIATING BORDERS, AN EXHIBITION FROM THE REAL DMZ PROJECT AT THE KOREAN CULTURAL CENTRE AUSTRALIA - Kim Sunjung
10 KIM WHANKI: MODERN MASTER OF THE AVANT-GARDE - Jackie Menzies
12 UNRAVELING PLACE: OH HAJI’S TEXTILE WORK NAUTICAL MAP - Soo-Min Shim
15 GORYEO CELADON WARES: THE EMBODIMENT OF BUDDHIST TRANQUILLITY - Penny Bailey
18 MUSIC FOR THE MASSES: MINOUK LIM’S O TANNENBAUM AT APT10 - Reuben Keehan
20 BOOKMARKS, CUSHIONS, BOOKS AND THINGS: REDISCOVERING KOREAN STORIES AT THE NGV - Wayne Crothers
22 HAENYEO – THE SEA WOMEN OF JEJU ISLAND - Daina Fletcher
24 ARTIST PROFILE: KWIRAK CHOUNG, WOOD-FIRE POTTER - John Freeland
25 CONNECTIONS THROUGH CRAFT: THE ROLE OF ASIALINK - Pippa Dickson
26 THE KOREAN CULTURAL CENTRE AUSTRALIA: 10 YEARS OF ENDEAVOUR IN THE VISUAL ARTS SECTOR - Jihee Kim
27 RECENT TAASA ACTIVITIES
29 TAASA MEMBERS’ DIARY: DECEMBER 2021 - FEBRUARY 2022
30 WHAT’S ON: DECEMBER 2021 - FEBRUARY 2022