Home Arts curator Sook-Kyung Lee on her biggest influences

curator Sook-Kyung Lee on her biggest influences

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The Art Newspaper: If you could live with just one piece of art, what would it be?

Sook-Kyung Lee: It would be Nam June Paik’s tv buddha (1974). It is one of Paik’s signature works which features an antique Buddha statue, CCTV camera and TV screen. The Buddha image is filmed and shown live, manifesting the cyclical nature of being, while touching our vanity. I love how the charged ambiguity of the subject is grounded in the simplicity of the form.

What cultural experience changed the way you see the world?

The gradual and continuous change I have experienced since moving to London in 1999. Growing up in Seoul, where the economic, political, social and cultural landscapes have faced many rapid changes, the way of life and work British seemed rather calm but in a stagnant way. I mostly noticed differences at first, but then I realized that there were shared values, and that differences could be good sources of inspiration and admiration between disparate communities. I think such an experience influenced and deepened my interest in finding new ways of understanding the global nature of contemporary art that are based on a sense of respect and community that defies hierarchical perspectives.

Which writer or poet do you come back to the most?

I have a thing for philosophical writings and one of my favorites is [ancient Chinese text] THE Zhuangzi. It is filled with allegories, parables and anecdotes, and has a universal quality in exploring the complexity of human values ​​and the ethics of life. I also find it fascinating that the text is a kind of collective writing, compiled and modified over the centuries.

What music or other audio do you listen to while you work?

I like to listen to background music like [London-based musician] Will Bolton. The juxtaposition of subtle melodies and the everyday sounds of urban environments, like the chirping of birds amidst the noise of traffic, creates a delicate balance between what can be heard and what might not.

What do you watch, listen to or follow that you would recommend?

I’m interested in all kinds of science fiction, and I very often watch old and new films of space travel, alien encounters, and galactic wars. I was quite surprised to see the recent movie Everything everywhere all at once was considered science fiction, but soon realized that its deceptively everyday quality made it indeed representative of the genre.

What is art for?

Inspiring us to imagine a better future and enabling us to achieve it.

Gwangju Biennial, South Korea,
April 7-July 9, gwangjubiennale.org

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