혼성공간으로서의 민중미술

Minjung Art as Space of Hybridity
현대미술사연구 제22집, 2007.12, 271-311 (41 pages)
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All art is a product of ideology as well as a mirror on realities of time; Minjung Art is no exception to this idea. While Minjung Art set forth social utterance and social reform, it is also a manifestation of historical and social contexts. Critical writings on Minjung Art hitherto have mainly focused on addressing its ideological aspects and therefore it is more difficult to find texts that examine the realities of its time represented in Minjung Art. In this paper, I will attempt to illuminate this lesser discussed aspect of Minjung Art; its aspect as the “mirror of reality.”
Looking through the mirror of Minjung Art, I am able to see what Homi Bhabha described as the “Third Space.” This theoretical term refers to a cultural contact zone that deconstructs the fiction of “purity” of a native culture and reveals its “hybrid identity.” In this Third Space, native and foreign things do not merely meet each other but ambiguous and complex exchanges occur continuouslyamong diverse signs in the form of collision, amalgamation, appropriation and adaptation. When the detente between the Left and the Right as well as multinational capitalism became familiar realities, global space of hybridity emerged worldwide in the late 20th century, thereby creatinga sensibility of the post-modern. Located in the inferior space called the other and inevitably exposed to the world powers, the Third World became an exemplar site in the global space of hybridity. The Korean society in the 1980s is a typical example of such “third-worldly” space of hybridity and Minjung Art is its version of art practice.
In the 1980s, Korea underwent a period of rapid, domestic political change in which one-person dictatorship ended in a pretext and was placed in diversified international relations? being the only divided nation (after the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989). At the same time, the nation’s economy rapidly shifted to a main peripheral nation of multinational capitalism and to a post-industrial society. Accordingly, disparate contexts in areas of politics, economy and society became entangled and Minjung Art bore out of these contexts. With the aims of “pure” nationalist art, Minjung Art, in fact, became a vivid documentation of this “impure” site. Not limited by critically represented urban landscapes, Minjung Art generated cultural responses from the realities of hybridity including inclination to purebloodism or ethnic homogeneity. Korean racial superiority complex came into effect with even more force as the crisis of hybridity unfolded in front of the Koreans and in visual arts, it emerged as Minjung Art. This is an example of nationalism Frantz Fanon referred to as a type of defense mechanism.
The modes of hybridity that emerged in Minjung Art werefirst presented through images of the nation state and its members. The native images therein aimed at a singular ethnic nation are mixed with the actual conditions as a universal crossroad images of the subject matter “minjung”(means ‘people’ in Korea) of the same ethnicity and images of the cosmopolitan “masses” thatare of multiple ethnicities, are entangled. The images represented in Minjung Art are not univocal signs that represent nationalism. In contrast, they are equivocal signs that reveal a peripheral status surrounding the Korean Peninsula which brought the changes in its imperative under the premise of diversity and fluidity of nationalism. Whether the site of hybridity is depicted directly or indirectly, a crossroad of complex international relations? a geopolitical map of Korean Peninsula at the time is juxtaposed on the works of Minjung Art.
It is also possible to look at the site of hybridity through the visual environment portrayed in the works of Minjung Art. Minjung Art’s notion of utopia basedon an agricultural society rooted in tradition has been realized in the temporal-spatial matrix of plasticity where tradition and modern, natural and artificial, agricultural and industrial are interlaced. This matrix was forged within the visual environment of Korea at the time when different time zones and disparate spaces intermixed due to accelerated industrialization. Whether Minjung Art paintings depicted tradition and nature, modern cities or both, they are artistic responses to the site of hybridity and to the sense of plasticity implied by this site of hybridity. Minjung Art was manifested in both hybrid images in styles that hybridized various artistic approaches. Modern art in Korea has been rapidly changed and has often been subject of experimentation diverse styles for its cultural and geopolitical conditions allowed foreign artistic styles to be introduced and adopted in haste. Due to this process, a number of styles came into simultaneous existence in the 1980s. In the pretext of nationalist style of pure ethnicity, Minjung Art was at first a product of art historical context (considering Minjung Art as a type of stylistic antidote to overcome the crisis of hybridity). However, Minjung Art is also a mirror of art historical context (because its works reveal a hybridity of diverse styles).
As stated above, the hybridity of Minjung Art is contained in the imagery of pure ethnicity and it is also manifested through a representation of the site of hybridity. In some cases, this is revealed in a manner that combines both comparison and coexistence. Perhaps Minjung Art was the last struggle to preserve the pure ethnicity of artists who personally felt the crisis of ethnic, societal and artistic hybridity. A wide range of images represented in Minjung Art and thus it is an act of artistic exorcism ? either to transcend the precarious reality or to meet it face to face as to ward it off.
As attempted in this paper, exploring another aspect of Minjung Art and approaching it with different perspective is a work to open up a sign to many “differences.” It is a way of side stepping the myth of “totality” that follows all signs. In other words, it is a way of finding among the diverse signs of Minjung Art what the narrative of “singular culture of singular ethnicity” suppressed and it is also a way of revising what the narrative distorted.
Among many artistic trends in the history of modern Korean art, the only case of the many assessed as a truly “Korean” modern art in the international art world is Minjung Art. The true Korean identity of Minjung Art is contained not in a singular logic that defines it instead, it is in the diverse difference implied by it. If Minjung Art is a true Korean modern art, it is identified as such because Minjung Art has exposed clearly the lively site of hybridity in Korea at the time, when a diversity of ethnicities transfused, not because of the nationalist ideology that aspires to protect the pure Korean ethnic blood. A better way to describe this situation is that even such purism is a product and a mirror of the place of hybridity in which everything mingles together. Minjung Art is the clearest mirror of Korea of this period. It reveals through concrete images the particular cultural and geopolitical positions confronting Korea at the time.

Ⅰ. 여는 글 : 순혈 이데올로기 이면의 혼혈 현실
Ⅱ. 다변적인 국제관계의 네트워크
Ⅲ. 시, 공간의 가소성
Ⅳ. 다양한 양식의 이종교배
Ⅴ. 닫는 글

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