Working for the Future Past

SeMA, Seoul Museum of Art 
Seoul, South Korea 
Until 4 March 2018

Curated by Jin Kwon

Ailton Krenak, Carlos Motta, Carolina Caycedo, Cinthia Marcelle, Eduardo Abaroa, Gala Porras-Kim, Juan Fernando Herrán, La Agencia, La Ene, Laura Huertas Millán, Leon Hirszman, Part-time Suite, Partricia Domínguez, Roberto Jacoby

Conceived as the non-western art series of SeMA, this exhibition Working for the Future Past resists against the thesis that the future is a logical and linear result of the past. Instead, it suggests to comprehend and to practice contemporary art within the possibility of synthetic and circular time. Inviting Latin American artists, the exhibition attempts to approach a history of fragments disconnected from the future; a future intervening through the retrieved past; and the present within possibilities to create elements unprecedented in the past. More precisely, the exhibition is a place for considering how this leap to another time could be connected to the actual operation of contemporary art.

The narrative of this exhibition starts from the background of global political radicalization in the 1960s. However, this starting point is set to accentuate neither the details of political events recorded or still being recorded by these histories nor the importance of social meaning of avant-garde art then. The purpose of reflecting on avant-garde through this exhibition is to survey how the “synthesis of art and life” proposed by historical avant-garde divided and articulated according to the change of previous social order and how art gains its vitality into an aesthetically format. Art’s vitality can operate when it becomes a cultural and political index addressing on a society, before being a simply beautiful matter or act. Therefore this exhibition investigates the inside of the complex beauty deeply engraved in the sociopolitical context of colonial modernity that non-western regions including Korea commonly experienced and how its aesthetic processes created the region’s own visuality and morphology.

The 14 individuals and collectives are invited in this exhibition, not because of their geographical status, but because they are conscious about the problem of a postcolonial perspective, subjectivity and their community after passing through the experience of the Western imperialism; the cultural hierarchy; hybrid of culture and the history of modernization and dictatorship. However, Working for the Future Past is not other’s culture, by enumerating the works and the artists of other regions. It is rather suggested to be aware of the actual and unavoidable constraints and borders that operate the local art in the language of Western-modernity and to look through Latin America as the way to cross the boundaries. We deny neither returning to the unidentified past nor promising the fantastic future in this process of crossing boundaries, but only viewing their idea as a mirror to examine the distances between us. A deeper understanding of Latin America could provide a route to enter the common dimension of “global and local contemporary art.”

Text contributors: Ana Longoni & Mariano Mestman, Miguel Lopez, Park Sookyung, Shin Seung-cheol