An unceasing rebound, an obsessive stroke echoes in the whole space. It is the rhythmic and constant noise of a bouncing table tennis ball. Like a ticking it scans time; like other sounds it demands a response, even if only the mute dialogue of its repetition. For sure it scanned the stream of consciousness of the artist who created thousand possible narrations and none in particular, and now it passes the eye back and forward between the signs spread around the exhibition.
Viafarini has become an A4, a simple and pure white sheet on which Hyunjhin Baik, during his two months of residency, materialised a composition through sound, painting, sculpture, installation and performance. Or maybe it is this sedimentation of traces and expressions – in between the well-pondered and the imponderable, in between the serious and the facetious – that has become lyric poetry (we should not forget that Baik is also underground musician, professional composer, as well as poet; he collaborated with the Korean dancer and choreographer Eun-Mi Ahn, with the legendary German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch, as well as with film directors such as Chan-Uk Park, Sang-Soo Hong and Ki-Duk Kim):
I read it because
it is said to be a great writing.
But it was mediocre.
As matter of fact, did not even finish it.
Due to an image that I have seen a long time ago.
Perhaps because of it,
I was continuously afflicted with trivial thoughts.
Therefore, I could not properly read it.
Multitude of people asked for my opinion over and over.
So I answered, it's so-so.
However now, you know.
It is not true.
My answer was utterly thoughtless.
I am ashamed.
At this point in time, I make such thoughts:
If it had the slightest bit of relationship with
the image that I have seen, most likely,
I would have at least achieved to read it
until the end, I presume.
What is it that the artist could not read? Is it a real text? Is there a guiding thread? Four unused ping pong tables send a ghost sound. A logo consisting of four rhombi drips from a wall and chase themselves in the drawings and the paintings. The two colours of this melted flag are red and green, reminding of a traffic light that stops you or invites you to advance (theme evoked also in the title of a drawing series He saw a traffic signal). It is yes and no, back and forward, live or die. It imposes a binary logic which gives the show its structure. The background, like the tables, make you think that there has been a competition which did not produce a winner – the rackets are all defence rackets – but it has caused a tragedy. Some balls went through a metamorphosis and turned into golden chestnut husks and other elements hint at the possibility that one of the competitors committed suicide, while the other probably decided to dedicate himself to hunting: a carbine, a deer’s head in a trophy, the wooden sculpture of another, fictive rifle… And last not least a painted portrait of a feral man, also as a trophy.
Like in the complex structures of Sang-Soo Hong’s film sequences, also here one has the sensation to get lost in the stream of numerous simulated references and meanings. Hyunjhin Baik, too, brings about a shift in the meanings we commonly give to things, to normality, in a critical and analytical process of observation of the world: it is an appeal to listening and to overcome appearances. The spectator is lead towards a situation of intellectual uncertainty, a questioning of mental categories. It is not easy to distinguish reality and simulation, seriousness and irony. However, maybe in the end, like in a movie by David Lynch, beyond the possible interpretations, one always suspects to have been cleverly deceived…
All this happens in front of two huge canvases (Dusk e Dawn) representing a group of faces, an audience that winks, ogles, apparently uninterested; sometimes it mocks its stalls. In this scenario also Hyunjhin Baik will be a ready made of himself during the days of the opening. In a statue-like pose, elevated on a tennis table, holding one racket of the competition in his hand, he sings without interruption like a juke-box, while, in this “schizophrenic” exhibition, a garlic fertilised and hanged on the wall desperately seeks to unite with an onion busy with take roots in a bottle of water.