Mass and Individual: The Archive of the Guyanese Mass Games


Poster design: Shin Dokho. Image:: A View of the 1990 Mass Games, 1990. Photographic print. Courtesy of Allied Arts Unit, Ministry of Education of Guyana.


Mass and Individual: The Archive of the Guyanese Mass Games
October 21–November 27, 2016

Opening: October 21, 5–7pm

Arko Art Center
1-130 Dongsung-dong
110-809 Seoul
South Korea
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–7pm

T +82 10 9638 0430
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Artists: Jungju An (Korea), Philbert Gajadhar (Guyana), Joonho Jeon (Korea), Yunjoo Kwak (Korea), Suntag Noh (Korea), Polit-Sheer-Form (China), George Simon (Guyana), Diana Yoo (Canada)

Co-Curated by Wonseok Koh and Vicki Sung-yeon Kwon

The exhibition garnered the largest grant of the 2016 Arts Council Korea exhibition grant.

While Korea experienced imperialist military competition, World War II, the Cold War, division, and political upheaval first-hand in East Asia, on the other side of the hemisphere, Guyana experienced a similarly tragic history of modernity in the Caribbean. During 300 years of European colonization, Guyana saw the dislocation and extinction of Amerindian people and cultural heritage, and the division of their land. The newly independent Guyana underwent Cold War ideological conflicts and the political extremes of a socialist regime and a pro-US neoliberal regime.

This exhibition consists of an archive collection of the Mass Games in Guyana in the 1980s–’90s and contemporary artists’ work that explores the theme of “mass and individual.” The Co-Operative Republic of Guyana, a socialist regime in the independent Guyana, was fascinated by the collective identity portrayed in the North Korean Mass Games. Guyana invited North Korean artists to learn how to stage such spectacles. Guyanese artists incorporated their own cultural elements into the North Korean Mass Games and staged the event annually. The Guyanese Mass Games show interesting cultural elements: they manifest distinctive cultural codes of the postcolonial and the Cold War eras, critical aspects of collectivism in the performing arts, an alteration of Socialist Realism by incorporating local elements, and the transnational exchange of art and culture via sharing an ideology.

The exhibition suggests that such a cultural spectrum was not simply a trend in the past; rather, it is still an ongoing issue in contemporary visual art. Participating artists Jungju An, Jeon Joonho, Yunjoo Kwak, Noh Suntag, Polit-Sheer-Form, and Diana Yoo demonstrate that such cultural elements are still influential in our contemporary life and culture. The exhibition presents the significant cultural implications of the Mass Games and the contemporary works and, in doing so, invites the viewers to think about the visual culture surrounding us today. We invite the viewers to encounter a unique intersection of history and reality as well as the disparate geographic spaces and times presented together in the exhibition space.

During the exhibition, four public and academic programs including lectures, talks, and screening will be held to explore the collectivism of modern nations.

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Filmic Dialogue with Yunjoo Kwak, Igor Sevcuk and The Otolith Collective


ARTTALK: Contemporary Korean Art Today

Filmic Dialogue with Yunjoo Kwak and Igor Sevcuk, moderated by The Otolith Collective

Now with the fourth instalment of ARTTALK, the Korean Cultural Centre UK presents ARTTALK: Filmic Dialogue with Yunjoo Kwak and Igor Sevcuk on Monday 4 April from 6.30pm to 8.00pm. On this occasion, Kwak will present the first UK film screening of works which were developed during her recent residency in London on the invitation of The Otolith Collective.

This special talk will begin with a double feature of screenings which present a number of short films produced by Kwak and Sevcuk including Triumph of the Will (2008), Autobiography of Solitude (2015 – work in progress), and Icelandic Grass (2006). Through the presentation of these experimental films the artists will interrelate their filmic practices on a range of different topics including ideology, displacement, self-exile, testimony, violence, and collective memory. In doing so, the artists will intertwine the histo-ries of their former homelands, and personal episodes that form the background for their art. Coming from different sides of the world and now residing in the European Union, these two artists articulate their personal experiences of migration through the moving images. As such, by retracing their journeys and finding the way out of ideological traps, they carry a dialogue within their filmic practice that intensifies the sense of self and encourages greater interaction between persons.

After the screenings, The Otolith Collective (Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar) will explore questions emerging from the artists’ filmic practice. The discussion will consider the relation of historical and biographical narratives of the exilic to formal and medial questions of narration, speculation, archive and futurity.

ARTTALK: Contemporary Korean Art Today is an inaugural talk series for Spring 2016. In collaboration with a selection of the UK’s distinguished arts and cultural institutions, ARTTALK provides a platform to explore and understand Korea’s prominent artists and their practice. Using recent exhibitions and residency programmes in the UK as a backdrop featured artists, curators, and critics of international standing will offer audiences an extended opportunity to learn more about Korea’s art scene right in the heart of London.


Yunjoo Kwak
Yunjoo Kwak (Seoul, South Korea) lives and works between Amsterdam and London. She studied and taught in MFA at the Korean National University of Art, Seoul, 2008 and Dutch Art Institute/ ArtEZ, Arnhem, 2011. Her works have been exhibited in a number of different public venues such as Studium Generale Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, Reykjavik Museum of Photography, French Cultural Centre, Brain Factory, Hanmi Museum of Photography, Total Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul, and Seoul Museum of Art. Her works often deal within the notion of ‘documentary’ and ‘performativity’ as practising political and aesthetic strategies in various mediums; film, performance, photography, and publication. She is drawn to topics such as architecture, immigration, bureaucracy, and community relations as point of departure for the narratives.

Igor Sevcuk
Igor Sevcuk (Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina) lives and works in Amsterdam where he has resided for many years. Sevcuk’s work reconnects personal as well as collective memories. Hereby it is ‘poetics’ that provides the synthetic strategies for re-thinking the experience of the everyday life. After receiving his MA in 2000 from the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam, he was awarded first prize for film and video, de Prix de Rome 2002. He further developed his art practice throughout 2004/2005 at the residency de Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. In 2010 he founded and co-organised the artist-led space Goleb in Amsterdam. He has presented his works at, among other places, Westfaelischer Kunstverein in Münster, Art Space JungMiSo in Seoul, Kunstverein in Frankfurt, Gallery Sign in Groningen, Living Art Museum in Reykjavik, International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam, Kunsthall in Bergen, Museum het Valkhof in Nijmegen, Museum am Ostwall/hART ware in Dortmund and Institut Néerlandais in Paris.

The Otolith Collective
The Otolith Collective is the curatorial platform directed by Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar of The Otolith Group. The Otolith Collective curates, programmes, publishes and supports artistic practice in the expanded field of documentary fabulation. Recent projects include The Chimurenga Library at The Showroom, LA Rebellion Seminar at Tate Modern, A Cinema of Songs and People: The Films of Anand Patwardhan at Tate Modern and On Vanishing Land by Mark Fisher and Justin Barton at The Showroom. In 2010 The Otolith Group were nominated for the Turner Prize.

Korean Cultural Centre UK
Since being opened by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in January 2008, under the jurisdiction of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, the KCCUK has presented year-round exhibition programmes, film festivals as well as traditional and contemporary musical performances. From the KCCUK’s central London location (just off Trafalgar Square), the institution’s dedicated cultural team work to further develop established cultural projects, introduce new opportunities to expand Korean programmes in the UK and to encourage ongoing cultural exchange.

Visitor Information:
Opening times:
Monday–Friday: 10am–6pm
Saturday: 11am–5pm
Free entry

Korean Cultural Centre UK,
Grand Buildings, 1–3 Strand
London WC2N 5BW
Main Entrance on Northumberland Avenue
+44(0)20 7004 2600
Nearest London Underground Station:
Charing Cross, Embankment

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For the side program of Unfair, Anna Hoetjes selected experimental and documentary films from the collection of the EYE Filmmuseum and elsewhere. The films portray the periphery of the city, focussing on Amsterdam Noord and the harbor. This program shows work by contemporary makers in the Netherlands, next to work by a generation of young filmmakers in Amsterdam in the 70ies. They provide a poetic and aesthetic view on the edge of the city, but also bring us their critical and socially engaged perspective. Labour, architecture and love are balancing on the edge of the city and of society.

Inline image 2
Nation for two, 2012

This poetic and photographic short film shows the subterranean journey of a man and a woman, tunneling their way towards each other, through national barriers, ruins, grand landscapes and harbours.

A political portrait of the workers at the NDSM dock. As the last ship is built in these docks, the filmmakers asks the employees how they feel about the end of this era. Here Unfair’s venue ‘the Scheepsbouwloods’ is still lighting up with welding flames and metal. ‘Amsterdams Stadsjournaal’ was a collective of young filmmakers, that used the medium to convey their political ideals.

A video essay, developed during a conversation with the architect Endry van Velzen, regarding his text ‘Over vanzelfsprekendheid, de 1138 van Gool in Amsterdam Noord’. It portrays the flats next to the Buikslotermeerplein and deeply examines the aesthetical, political and economical thoughts behind these flats, that were built in the late 60ies.

Short films that were shot on the edges of Amsterdam. They turn everyday events into sensitive, poetic and sometimes absurd intermezzo’s.

DE ZONE, 1999
A precisely framed and very visual film, that provides a oppressing and shocking perspective on the Dutch phenomenon of ‘de afwerkplek’. The regulated street prostitution area at the ‘Theemsweg’ that is portrayed in this film, closed down in 2004.

ANNA HOETJES (1984) studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and the Dutch Art Institute. Besides her practise as a video and performance artist, she works at the archives of media art and film institutes, like the NIMk (LI-MA), Impakt Festival and currently at EYE.

This program has been made possible by EYE Filmmuseum and the generous support of Beamsystems BV.


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Chronicle of Plan van Gool

A Chronicle of Plan van Gool (20 mins, 2014) is a video essay by Yunjoo Kwak, developed during a conversation with an architect, Endry van Velzen, regarding his text ‘Over vanzelfsprekendheid, de 1138 van Gool in Amsterdam Noord’, (in: OASE nr. 49 1998, p. 44-65) The text presents a sophisticated analysis of Plan van Gool, designed by a State architect Frans van Gool (1929 – ) in 1968, and reflects upon van Gool’s fundamental critique of modernist concepts through the residential building. By appropriating his text, the essay attempts to re-examine the thoughts of the two architects, how they perceive of architectural performances – aesthetically, politically, and economically – and how each responds to environmental forces and crises.

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A Season in Hell – chronicle of Plan van Gool

Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 8.45.18 PM

Plan van Gool is designed by a Dutch architect Frans van Gool (1922 – ) in the late 1960s and was realized as experimental housing in a way of solving housing problems in Amsterdam. The architectural style is a very unique design; it looks a bit like Amsterdam Bijlmer, but smaller flats so it’s suitable for those who live alone, elderly couples, young academics and designers. And each building is connected with air bridges, like boarding on an airplane, green surroundings and enough car parking places.

I have been performing together with a neighborhood activity called Samen Krachtig Plan van Gool, Buikslotermeerplein in Amsterdam Noord for a part of my research project “A Season in Hell” (2013 – ). The neighborhood activity is trying to initiate a neighborhood company that is programed by Bewonersgestuurde Wijkontwikkeling (BGW) from Gemeente Amsterdam in associated with Ymere, Combiwel and Hogeschool van Amsterdam (Maatschappij en Recht). The main goal is to develop in the direction of self-development and implementation of a plan by citizens which the government has a facilitating role after several consecutive years of government spending cuts. The Dutch economy is expected to have shrunk and at the same time systemizing the process of stimulating social and economic field. I have been involved in this communal activity by contributing a promotional video and a local newspaper ‘Breed’ (1977 – the present) which of all their activities.

By performing my role as an artist, rather than to narrowly focusing on their significance to the nation and certain form of politics, I rather seek how to gathering our individual/ collective emotions through the physical space and the activity and examine how they interweave with each other.


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A Journey into Downey’s Kingdom

 I have been developing a project about Downey’s cafe in Amersfoort in the framework of Grand Domestic Revolution with Casco since October 2009. The synopsis was inspired by an article that I read in the magazine Vanity Fair in 2007. The story goes that Arthur Miller (1915-2005) had hidden his son with Down syndrome, named Daniel Miller (1966- ) and he left some fortunes to Daniel by changing his will before his death. According to the article, his son, who was born to his third wife, Inge Morath (1926-2002), was not only placed in a state institution in Connecticut, but had never been visited by his father. Arthur Miller did not mention Daniel even in Timebends (1987), his autobiography, and kept Daniel’s existence hidden from any public place or event. Daniel Miller has lived a nearly independent life partly with the government support, but since he received inheritance from his father, he is in an odd situation where he might have to return all the subsidies to the government.

I found a cafe named Downey’s in Amersfoort which is run by a family and their son Arjan with Down syndrome. There are several Down syndrome people working in the cafe as well as volunteers who support them. However the Down syndrome people have to pay for their labour to the cafe, which in return supplies them with a form of traineeship. This is aimed at providing a social platform where they can work, in order to partly be economically independent. I worked at the cafe for 6 months as a volunteer. I was interested in working there and wanted to look at the attitude towards disabled people within a part of Dutch society. While I was working there I sometimes filmed them. At the beginning, it didn’t go so easily since I can’t speak Dutch, the Down syndrome people can’t speak English and I was the only Asian in this typical Dutch area, so they kept distance from me. Somehow this was not so unfamiliar for me since I also have a hearing difficulty and this allowed them to be a little more open mind towards me, in a sense of kinship. However, as time went by I discovered a space between the Down syndrome people and myself in terms of the difficulty in the communication, and also found that there are economic and social problems linked with the relationships between their disability and the job opportunity.Once, at the cafe, I was talking with Arjan who has Down syndrome. I used to talk to him since he works at the cafe 4 days a week as a full time job. The talks between him and I didn’t work at the beginning, but as I started to discover his language, it somehow started show some small progress. Mostly I discovered something interesting in the videos that I shot after I had the translation from Dutch to English. An example below,

# 4  Me and Arjan

ME: Arjan, is your friend a girl or a boy?

Arjan: Funale?

Friend? Yes.

Me: Do you want to go home?

Arjan: Fwany, fwany.

Me: Do you want to go home?

Arjan: Mijn vriend (my friend)

Mijn vriend.

Mijn…braszi.. Sabrina.


Me: Mama?

Arjan: Mammie mammie. Mijn vrienden.


Arjan and Marieke

Arjan: Beaucoup coup – coup – coup – coup – (French, he is quite often saying “Merci beaucoup” instead of “Dank u wel”)

Marieke: koe? (Cow)

Arjan: Si (Spanish, because the manager of the cafe is from Spain but he speaks perfect Dutch as well as English, so Arjan probably learnt some Spanish)

Marieke: Zieke koe? (Sick cow?)

Arjan: Ja.

Marieke: Wat! Je moet spingen in de gracht! (What! You should jump into the canal!)

The Grand Domestic Revolution

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