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[Article] Yi Sang à Paris: Art of Repetition and Improvisation in 2010 Paris/Seoul

Journal of Korean and Asian Arts Vol. 1,
2020.5, pp. 29-54 (26pages)
DOI : 10.20976/KAA.2020.1.002
Publisher : Journal of Korean and Asian Arts
Copyright ⓒ Journal of Korean and Asian Arts
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This paper examines modern Korean poet Yi Sang’s artwork and revisits the Paris-Seoul joint exhibition Est-ce que la ligne a assassine le cercle? [Did the line murder the circle?], which was held to celebrate Yi Sang’s centennial in 2010. The exhibition showcased contemporary Eurasian artists inspired by Yi Sang’s originality as one of the most celebrated modern poets who also happened to be an architect, painter, and illustrator and whose work habitually crossed literary and non-literary boundaries. Nevertheless, Yi Sang’s visual artwork did not gain much scholarly attention until 2010. A few projects that analyze his illustrations have been published since then, yet his continuing legacy from the perspectives of contemporary art beyond Korea has never been addressed. Actively engaging in unconventional experiments with language and the visual, Yi Sang freely visualizes language and verbalizes images at once in his multilingual writing. He takes a multimedia approach to visual arts as well and uniquely employs text, creating a collage that opens symbolic possibilities for infinity yet also singularity. The 2010 exhibition was organized and curated by mathematician and sound artist Emmanuel Ferrand, who found aesthetic value in the translatability of Yi Sang’s works. This paper focuses on Yi Sang’s transmediality that is reinterpreted and re-created by the interdisciplinary arts presented at the exhibition, notably the installation and performance “Yi Sang Machine” among others, and investigates Yi Sang’s unique perception of space that translates not only between the verbal and the visual but also between 1930s’ Korean modernism and 21st century’s border-crossing art.
  • Keywords: border-crossing art; Korean modernism; colonial modernity; multidisciplinary arts; interdisciplinary arts; digital art; spatiality