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Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Asia Culture Center

“Attention! Zombies”

Zombies began to appear in European and American films during the shift to the 20th century. After undergoing different makeovers, zombies began appearing as protagonists in 21st-century Korean visual media. How was this “contemporary monster,” which transcends time and borders, created? 2022 ACC CONTEXT “Attention! Zombies” reinterprets zombies beyond simple creations of popular culture—as contemporary symbols that have taken on the temporality and regionality of this age.

2022 ACC CONTEXT<br>
“Attention! Zombies”
  • DateOct. 20, 2022 – Feb. 26, 2023 (THU–SUN)
  • Time(TUE–SUN) 10:00–18:00
    (WED, SAT) 10:00–20:00
    *Closed on Mondays
  • PlaceSpace 3 / Space 4
  • Price Free
  • TicketFree admission
  • Contact+82-1899-5566

좀비 주의(Attention! Zombies)
ACC CONTEXT “Attention! Zombies,” a temporary exhibition based on the results of research on contemporary Asian themes, is an exhibition that reflects on the symbolism of zombies. Zombies began to appear in European and American films during the shift to the 20th century. After undergoing several makeovers, zombies began appearing as protagonists in 21st-century Korean visual media. How was this “contemporary monster,” which transcends time and borders, created? Starting with this question, “Attention! Zombies” reinterprets zombies beyond simple creations of popular culture—as contemporary symbols that have taken on the temporality and regionality of this age.

The first part of the exhibition, “Asian Zombie Chronicle,” brings together examples of zombies in visual media from the early 20th century to the present day and analyzes and visualizes them. By arraying the different examples of zombies in Korean, Asian, and Western popular culture with significant events in Korean and world history, this section seeks to help visitors understand the historical context behind these figures. Furthermore, it focuses on the idea of zombies as a social mirror that reflects our society’s changes, anxieties, and unique culture.

The second part of the exhibition, “Night of the Living Corpses,” showcases 14 works by 10 teams of artists active in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. Participating works express the symbol of zombies from different human angles, such as life and death, desire, terror, and chaos, all through the media of contemporary art.

Notably, as a part of the Asia Culture Center (ACC)’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practice, the exhibition seeks to reuse temporary walls and furniture from existing exhibition spaces and further builds upon a dystopian atmosphere by breaking and recombining sections of temporary walls.

Through this exhibition, the ACC seeks to rediscover the value of zombies as metaphors of the age and sociocultural symbols that deliver the story of the here and now.
  • Exhibition PeriodOct. 20–23, 2022 (THU–SUN)
  • LocationSpace 3 and 4 of ACC Creation
  • ArtistsKang Bora, Kim Bongsu, Moon So-hyun, Park Seong Jun, Bang Jeong A, Yuh Sunkoo, You Soyoung, Jung Myungwoo, BCL, Chuang Chih-Wei, Hikaru Fujii
Part 1 Asian Zombie Chronicle
Kang Bora, “Asian Zombie Chronicle,” 2022
Media culture researcher Kang Bora focuses on the theorization of the concepts of connectivity, participation, and sincerity in her research on the contemporary digital media environment’s structure and mediation methods. The approach taken by “Asian Zombie Chronicle” is informed by the idea of unusual subjects, like zombies, being deeply related to human desire and epistemology. Through that guiding concept, it investigates how today’s zombie contents connect to the psychological symbols of the contemporary world. “Asian Zombie Chronicle” brings together examples of zombies in visual media, which emerged from the early 20th century and continues to persist to the present day in Western media and expands its temporal and spatial presence to Asian media, analyzing the sociocultural significance behind the imaginary being of a zombie. Through that, it investigates the continuities and breaks between the images of Western and Asian zombies from a cross-cultural perspective and, thus, creates an opportunity for a reflection of zombie-ness from a contemporary perspective.
Part 2 Night of the Living Corpses
Kim Bongsu, “Web Pandemic”
Two-channel audio, 5 min, ACC commission, Kim Bongsu, “Web Pandemic,” provided by the artist
Contemporary dancer and choreographer Kim Bongsu, a member of the dance groups Mover and Ubuntu, whose works have focused on expanding the meaning and boundaries of modern choreography, has participated in films, TV shows, and other examples of zombie media as a choreographer who studies ways to express zombie movements. In the performance “Web Pandemic,” the dancer is covered in zombie powder that suppresses bodily senses. The dancer, thus, becomes a slave-like being, deprived of will, and, through that, showcases the movements of a zombie, twisted and rickety or charging ahead in madness. In this work, Kim connects the form of a zombie, which only follows primal instincts in movement, with the reality of today’s ethical regression from media development. Fake news wields the weapon called big data through social media, leaving behind the original purpose of delivering the truth instead of accelerating dogmatic thinking. This performance invites us to examine whether our movements, twisted and rushing forward, are like those of a zombie.
Moon So-hyun, “Nothing but a Zombie”
2022, animated color video, sound, 8 min, ACC commission, provided by the artist
Artist Moon So-hyun uses grotesque imagery of stop animation and puppet theater to reveal the trauma, violence, anxiety, and desires submerged in the contemporary human psyche. The work “Nothing but a Zombie” examines the figure of a zombie, codified only in terms of unsettling mystery through death and incomplete resurrection, lethal infectiousness, destroyed body parts, and merciless collectivity, from a different perspective. Moon focuses on the simple desire of hunger as the core of zombie-ness. Furthermore, the artist ponders on whether we, trapped in the compulsion to acquire new things without end and the anxiety and fear of crises that can arise without our knowledge, may attain greater happiness if we take a strong and clear sense of direction like a zombie. This work of imagination subverts the senses toward violence and fear imbued with zombies in lieu of a dream of a happier and more equal society, only possible through the state of zombie-ness, and turns them toward ourselves. Through this, the artist invites us to reconsider our conceptions of society’s reality and the figure of a zombie.
Park Seong Jun, “press conference (new version)”
2022, interactive installation, computer, Kinect sensor, strobe light, stage light, four speakers, table, microphone, four-channel sound, variable installation, 4 min and 30 s, ACC commission, provided by the artist
Artist Park Seong Jun uses videos, interactive installations, and media performances to investigate the incongruence between human conceptualization and reality. Park’s installations deconstruct or recombine the video language to show spaces of chaos and incongruence through a stage or a set, using film narratives to reveal human desires, anxiety, and conflict. The work “press conference” recreates a press conference, held in a state of structural contradiction where the speaker’s desires and listener’s beliefs contradict, as an interactive installation. Through this, Park directs our attention to this absurd facet of our society and how it manifests through individual and social conflict. “MONTAGE Ⅰ” resembles a scene from a film, as narrations reconstructed from messages left by serial killers combine with sound effects and music that create an atmosphere of horror. Their messages, resembling faded diaries, ironically feel not too different from our appearances (at least, until their real selves are revealed).
Bang Jeong A, “Surviving among Nuclear Zombies”
2022, acrylic on cotton cloth, 1320×670 cm, ACC commission, provided by the artist
Busan-based artist Bang Jeong A engages in painting-based praxis informed by the tradition of Minjung art and the feminist consciousness. “Surviving among Nuclear Zombies,” with four hanging paintings located toward the exit of the exhibition space, is full of zombies painted in enlarged scales amid scenery of a ruin. Bang’s activism and deep interest in the antinuclear movement imbue the image of a zombie with the symbolism of beings living parasitically on nuclear energy or contaminated by nuclear energy, despite the numerous problems and risks posed by its usage. At the same time, Bang hides survivors amid this crowd of zombies, with the hopes of beholders finding the ones who survived. As they move through the passageways built between these hanging paintings and face the entangled sceneries of zombies and humans, the audience members naturally engage with the question posed by the artist on the use of nuclear energy.
Yuh Sunkoo, “The King and the Subject”
1999, colored ceramic, 200×150×100 cm, part of Clayarch Gimhae Museum collection, provided by the artist
Yuh Sunkoo is known for his works of expressionist figures on ceramics, made up of far-reaching symbols and a diverse palette of colors. Perhaps reflecting his personal history as a migrant artist residing in the United States, his works demonstrate a hybrid character flowing through Eastern mythical creatures and Western pop cultural imageries. At the same time, his utilization of the theater of the absurd format and its mixture of characters imbues his work with a sense of a sociopolitical critique. For example, the massive ceramic work “King & Clown,” depicting a king riding on a clown, represents the question of class conflict or oppression. The historical imagery that represents the Ancien Régime and the social contradictions that brought the French Revolution to life is reproduced in this work through imageries of skulls, piranhas with teeth bared, and mythical creatures resembling dragons or “haetae” (unicorn-lion), all the while maximizing the grotesque character of the image. “Memory of Sabbath” shows the events of the artist’s daily life and imagination, submerged in his unconscious. In the six views comprising this work, the imageries derived from Eastern and Western religion and mythology reveal the inner conflict and idea of a utopia in a state of confusion.
You Soyoung, “Party of Sweets”
2022, chocolate, wood, steel, monitor, Arduino, heat lamp, 200×200×200 cm, ACC commission, provided by the artist
You Soyoung uses metaphorical works that combine data, mechanical mechanisms, and physicality to pose critical questions about social absurdities. In the piece “Party of Sweets,” You turns the sweet and striking imagery of a chocolate fountain into a machine that masks the grave reality of child exploitation. Upon close inspection, the opulent chocolate fountain is found to be made up of chocolate pieces that depict hands, feet, and other body parts. These pieces, which show children’s bodies toiling to transport heavy burdens or hold work tools, melt and change into grotesque shapes from the heat lamp. You uses the stock data of multinational chocolate companies to code the heat lamps’ movement according to stock trends. The result of her work reveals the distorted and grotesque reality behind the sweet confection.
Jung Myungwoo, “I will kill you”
2022, installation with composite materials, two-channel video, 700×500×500 cm, 20 min, ACC commission, provided by the artist
Jung Myungwoo investigates the medium and the conditions behind visual art through various cooperation methods centered around performances and, on the other hand, has used technical tools such as 3D virtual spaces, faux textures, and other examples of combinations between technology and art. The work “I will kill you,” a video installed on an artificial Styrofoam stage, shows the conversation between two soldiers from the former South and North Korea, respectively, now holed up in a guard post with the appearance of the “twisted ones.” Their conversation, which began to minimize the boredom of guard duty, derails and begins to accelerate toward an inevitable and irreversible end. The narrative of “I will kill you,” based on the cliché of zombie media where the ones closest become targets of attack, remind us of the things we had lived through during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the transmission of the virus among friends and isolation from loved ones to ward off the infectious disease. Furthermore, the lead-up to the story relegating the ones close to us as the abject (非體)—ones that must be killed—for naught in a moment alludes to the conflict and hatred created by the ideological conflict between North and South Korea.
Chuang Chih-Wei (莊志維), “Reborn Tree Series: Reborn Tree (Gwangju)”
2015, motor, fishing line, wood, variable size, provided by the artist
Chuang Chih-Wei is known for interactive works that use light and space to discuss the relationship between humans and nature. The work “Reborn Tree Series: Reborn Tree (Gwangju)” is an excellent representation of the artist’s unique methodology, characterized by the combination of mechanical rationality and delicate sentimentality. Sparking from a reflection on the circulation of time and the flow of life, it references the traditional Japanese art form Ikebana (生花). Just as flowers are reborn through death in Ikebana, Chuang investigates whether it is possible to use machines to imbue the subject with new life. The plant is connected to the motor from a distance and moves like a string puppet, seemingly given a breath of life by the god that moves today’s society, just as electricity, oil, and the Industrial Revolution had done.
Hikaru Fujii (藤井光), COVID-19 May 2020
2020, single-channel video, 5 min and 49 s, provided by the artist
Hikaru Fujii’s video works have presented a structural critique of the social and historical fissures that have not yet been realized. The two videos showcased in this exhibition, “COVID-19 May 2020” and “The Nuclear and the Object,” both cover exhibition spaces shut down by disaster. If “COVID-19 May 2020” had covered the appearance of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, which had closed down during the COVID-19 pandemic, “The Nuclear and the Object” discusses the collection in the Futabacho History Folk Museum, which faces an existential threat because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The paradoxical character demonstrated by these works, that is, that the warning of disasters and the feeling of doom are precluded from approaching the site, is revealed in greater clarity by the fact that the museum or collections shown in the works are intended to be visible places in the first place. Fujii, thus, points to these unrevealed sites of disasters as experiments on the ways we can remember and discuss such catastrophic events.
BCL, “Ghost in the Cell - Synthetic Heartbeats”
2022, two-channel video, two-channel audio, variable installation, ACC commission, provided by the artist
BCL is a bio-art group that focuses on the potential for the artistic application of cutting-edge bioengineering and the ethical points it raises for society and the individual. “Ghost in the Cell - Synthetic Heartbeats” is a project that seeks to imbue Hatsune Miku, a virtual Vocaloid idol created by Yamaha, with physical reality through a living heart. The artist asked Hatsune Miku fans to develop a digital-synthetic DNA that includes coded messages, images, and music, including biological information, to be put into the induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell. Then, the cell undergoes differentiation into a cardiac cell and eventually begins to beat by itself. “Ghost in the Cell - Synthetic Heartbeats” shows Hatsune Miku’s heartbeat and its real-time rendering process, posing questions on the differences and similarities between data-based and biological beings and the possibility of creating actuality through data.
Exhibition-related program
2022 ACC CONTEXT “Attention! Zombies” “Investigating the Korean Zombie” Roundtable
This event seeks to trace the origins of the zombie figure in Korean videos, literature, and games and analyze Korean zombie contents to present sociocultural discourses related thereto.
  • Date/VenueOct. 22, 2022 (SAT), 14:00–17:30 / Library Park Lecture Hall 2
  • SpeakersKang Bora (participating artist), Bok Dohoon (assistant professor, Seoul National University of Science and Technology Department of Creative Writing), Lee Gyeong-hyeok (editor in chief, Game Generation), Lee Jeongeun (president, Art Collective Contributors)
  • Participants30 participants with pre-application ※ Schedule to be released later Go to +
2022 ACC CONTEXT “Attention! Zombies” × ACC Guided Tour “ACC Night, Zombie Beat”
Enjoy the “Attention! Zombies” docent nighttime exhibition tour and zombie bounce DJ performance!
  • Date/VenueOct. 29, 2022 (SAT), 19:00–21:30
  • LocationACC Creation Space 3 and 4 and bamboo forest
  • Participants80 participants Go to +
Place Info.

ACC Creation, Space 3 / Space 4

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