What does idealized femininity look like in contemporary Korea? Three artists attempt to explore the influences and effects that shape understandings of womanhood through a series of paintings, digital illustrations and 3D animations. The exhibition, entitled "K-Surrogates," presents an artificially enhanced plastic wonderland, as alluring as it is disturbing.
Hye Rime Lee, Bunny Luv, pink
The exhibition chews up and spits out a variety of cultural codes, taken from music videos, manga, cyber culture, fashion magazines and Western ideals of beauty, exploring how these various aesthetic influences affect the country with the highest plastic surgery rate in the world.
"The concept for the show came from a desire to show in America a unique Korean cultural and artistic vision, that does not conform to an international orthodoxy," curator Gary Krimershmoys explained in an email to The Huffington Post. "These three female artists embodied a connection with this particular moment in Korea, where technology, an international K-pop explosion and a neo-feminist attitude are all intermixed to produce exceptional art."
Hye Rim Lee, a Korean-New Zealand artist, examines technology's influence on beauty and self-reflection. Her artworks revolve around an animated character named TOKI, through which she satirizes image ideals projected by advertising as well as gaming culture's obsession with phallic imagery. Similarly, Jihee Kim's works depict young women smiling unnaturally, highlighting the distance between their perfected appearance and the emptiness inside. Meanwhile Mari Kim's artworks revolve around "Eyedolls," virtually enhanced hybrids of Eastern and Western beauty ideals with unnaturally huge eyes.
The three artists, rather than accepting or rejecting the codes thrust upon them, challenge their origins and toy with their effects on what it means to be a feminine woman in Korea.
Hye Rim Lee, Candyland
Hye Rime Lee, TOKIs
Jihee Kim, Sealed Smile
Mari Kim, Maetel
Mari Kim, Romance in Pessimism
Mari Kim, Wild at Heart
"K-Surrogates," co-curated by Gary Krimershmoys and Jieun Seo, runs fro September 26 until November 9, 2013 at (Art) AMALGAMATED.