Opening Thursday, December 12th 2019, from 6pm, the result of Korean artist and activist Black Jaguar’s three-month Berlin artist residency is presented at SomoS in her solo exhibition “Spiegel/반사!.”
Conceptually uniting an array of techniques including drawing, film, photography, objects, installation, performance and fashion, Black Jaguar views her work as a deflection against oppressive cultures and as a protective shield for marginalised people.
In traditional Korean horror films, mirrors or window panes are often presented as a place where ghosts appear, or as a gateway to the spiritual world. In Jaguar’s art, the mirror is presented in a social context, reflecting back the injustices of society, and protecting and empowering minorities. By depicting these minorities as the ghosts or monsters that society often views them as, and reinterpreting them as powerful beings, Jaguar provides a mechanism for protecting and uplifting them.
In her conceptual fashion project "Haute Couture," presented during "Spiegel/반사!," the artist deconstructs the role of the Korean "Hanbok" skirt; a symbol of modesty and propriety, using it as part of her alternative creative narrative. In the 1960’s, a female working class emerged in South Korea. Going against traditional gender roles, their activities caused a sense of resentment in patriarchal society. In Black Jaguar’s view, this misogynistic fear is expressed through the horror film trope of dangerous female ghosts wearing a white "Hanbok" skirt to lure men into a trap. "Haute Couture" drastically reimagines the traditional garment both aesthetically and psychologically, with artists and activists involved in feminist and queer movements in South Korea wearing the bright costumes in her photo series and fashion films.
Presented halfway through the show, Jaguar’s "Ghost Dance" performance incorporates elements of dance, fashion film, a sound-track featuring elements of traditional Korean horror films, and the reimagined Hanbok skirts. Queer and feminist migrant performers adorn these skirts, holding mirrors that charge them and the audience with a protective, spiritual energy. Wearable objects that appear in the performances are also displayed in the exhibition.
"Spiegel/반사!" also presents the thematically connected series on paper, titled "Samdae (three generations)," which incorporates monster-like portraits of her grandmother, mother and herself. The work is a commentary of the commonalities of social and economic poverty and deficiency shared between generations of women, and their struggle to be independent. In the drawings her family stands on one leg with mysterious force, expressing them as transcendental beings with superpowers. In "Samdae," Black Jaguar reclaims a positive image of these mythological monsters by portraying them in a contemporary and personal context, that also speaks of the role of women in different periods of Korean history.
SomoS is looking forward to a fascinating solo exhibition that will share Black Jaguar’s insight and creative exploration of Korean women’s experiences with an interested Berlin audience, sparking discussion and cross-cultural dialog.