Book Curation: Floating Word(s)
by 김소희, 황선애 (상업화랑 전시기획팀)

We are passing through chaotic times that are difficult to define. With many unorganized words about today wandering around, we chose some things to read through which we thought the pieces of “now” can be put together. You can enjoy along with the exhibition “The Continuous Present”, currently being held at Sahng-up Gallery.

Hito Steyerl, The Color of Truth: Documentarism in the Art Field, translated by Kyucheol Ahn, Workroom Press, 2019.

(Sohee Kim)

“Continuous uncertainty, constant scepticism about whether what we are seeing is consistent with reality, is not an unacceptable flaw in documentary form, but rather a defining characteristic.”

What statues do documentaries (or documentary images) have today when virtual becomes a reality? Hito Steyerl starts with the ontological crisis that the documentary faces and looks for creative possibilities on top of that “definite uncertainty”. The new ontology of documentaries, mapped through vast knowledge such as archives and memory politics, W. Benjamin, G. Agamben, and psychoanalysis, represents multiple truths that make up reality.

Georges Didi-Huberman, Images Malgré Tout, translated by Yoonsung Oh, Rebecca, 2017. 

(Sohee Kim)

Thoughts on the potential role of a vulnerable and inadequate image in an era of “torn imagination”. Georges Didi-Huberman saves the resistant possibility of an image testifying to the reality of history from four blurry photographs taken in Auschwitz. For him, historical tragedies such as the Holocaust are not “unimaginable” but “only imaginable,” and studying the remaining images from them is an act of resuming the persistent thinking from where the thoughts have ceased. We must imagine for ourselves the power of historical conditions that have not been answered. In other words, we must risk (le margré) everything (le tout), “to remember,” “imagine by ourselves to know.”

Park Joon-Sang, 『Outside: The Voice of Maurice Blanchot and ‘Who’』, Green B, 2014.

(Sohee Kim)

A guidebook introducing Maurice Blanchot’s poetic language and philosophy, which inspired modern French philosophers such as Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Emmanuel Levinas. His thoughts linking the relationship between me and others to the experience of death and loss, or “outside experience”, seems to highlight the dark side of human existence in an era of despair and pain. Death, however, only discovers the possibility of existence toward others and the possibility of existence in relationships. Being together in an outside experience opens up the place of ‘us’, the place of “community-free communities.”

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore, translated by Kim Chun-mi, Literature & Thought, 2002

(Sunae Hwang)

A novel that vaguely crosses the boundary between real and virtual worlds and tells ‘now’. The characters in the novel are living in reality, mixed with memories or forgetting of “then”. Every being in reality itself holds status as ‘being’. In other words, the existence of oblivion itself is a sign of something’s empty space, such as the existence of memory. As Osama said, “The world is a metaphor,” the future breaks our expectation. So it is probably natural that reality doesn’t go our way.

Wolfgang Borchert, Generation without Farewell, translated by Kim Joo-yun, Moonji Publishing, 2018.

(Sunae Hwang)

The posthumous work of Wolfgang Borchert, who died in 1947 at the age of 26. All he wrote was his time in bed before he passed away. Having experienced World War II, he deeply consider what is ‘to live. He looks at nature, such as a ray of sunshine, earth smell, the vitality of the seed, and snow-covered branches, with a warm gaze and delicately continues and describes human life and behaviour. He never lets go of love and hope and breathes life into the bleak and hopeless situation of war. Now we are also living a grim and disconnected life fighting a war against the virus. As the obvious things are not taken for granted, everyday life became unfamiliar. As if to part with the previous generation. And at the same time, a new generation has arrived. The past time is engraved on our heart and new hope for a new future is arriving.