Studio Abba presented Nam Hong’s performance “La vie vécue” in the context of the 56th Venice Biennale. Nam Hong participates in Personal Structures - Crossing Borders at Palazzo Mora, premises of the European Cultural Centre. The exhibition will be open for the duration of the Biennale from 9 May to 22 November 2015. Among the artists who are also exhibiting in Personal Structures are Daniel Buren, Yoko Ono, Joseph Kosuth, Karl Stengel and Richard Long.
Nam Hong’s performance reveals the processes that generate a rotational motion. By abolishing the boundaries between art and life, when she is singing, dancing, throwing ink and acrylic, glue, and burned pieces of rice paper on the canvas, dressed in traditional Korean costume, Nam Hong exalts the act of painting. Her whole being, body and soul, is engaged in this act and in turn she invites the viewer to participate in the cycle with her and embrace life and death through the emblematic rose petals. Indeed, in the performance where she starts to add burnt rice paper to the canvas, she summons the distress of death or separation and thus looks back to her childhood but also beyond to new life: the debris and ash from the burnt paper become a new material, a promise of resurrection.
Beyond the fire and ash, an inner voice has always guided Nam Hong, a voice that comes from a multi-thousand year old rich Korean Shamanic tradition. Nam Hong’s paintings, installations and performances create a bridge between the East and West.
The artist’s recurring themes do not represent the human being, however both her childhood is fundamental for her artistic thought processes (her youth was deeply rooted in a family mystery and the death of her beloved grandmother) as is her own body. In her paintings, she is much more interested in space and nature, in the repetitive cycle of life and death of the trees, the butterflies and birds that attempt to break free from the canvas limits or the physical enormity of space around the mountains, such as in La Montagne. She concentrates, for example, on the metamorphosis of a butterfly, the alternation of the seasons. The images of butterflies, candlelight and paper fragments reduced to ashes such as in Le papillon, reveal the mysterious cycle of life and death, the origins of existence that eventually lead to extinction.
The ancient sounds of the drums during her performances and the fire overlapping objects and destroying the collage, present a contemporary artistic language that also looks at aspects such as the ancient poetry of nature, the painful concern for natural resources and ecological sensitivity. The passion for life and the poetry in the ashes are the only true theatre of existence, while life seems just a dream.