Hye-Seong Tak Lee, a Korean Women's Caucus for Art Member-At-Large, independent curator, artist and lecturer at Gwangju University, spontaneously flew over to Los Angeles for the Women's Caucus for Art Conference and, in particularly, to attend the inaugural meeting for the newly formed International Caucus, for which I was the Director. She had no room at the hotel, so I offered her my extra bed. What she added to this already whirlwind of a kickoff, was a proposal for a collaboration between WCA artists and Korean women artists for exhibitions in South Korea. I had never directed an exhibition, especially an international one, but, my natural instincts to say YES and have faith in my abilities as a quick learner won out. This conference was in February of 2012 and the exhibitions, just concluded!
With Priscilla Otani's guidance, and many odd-hour conversations with Hye-Seong, with her as director and me as co-director, we tackled the complicated international logistics:
Woman + Body explored the range of sexual identification - female, transgender, and male - with a contemporary, 21st century view. The subject of the female body was well-explored in the 1960's and produced many discourses in the 90's, related to such issues as AIDS, cosmetic surgery, stereotyping and discrimination, but what is new?
1) Woman's Body as Subject: unabashed exploration of women's bodies and women's desires- unaltered, unadulterated images that set a new standard of beauty.
2) Transformation and Crossover: Bodies altered through cosmetics, cosmetic surgery, tattoos, sex change, cross dressing, costuming and other means to achieve a metamorphosis.
3) Man's Body as Subject: a woman's view of the male body - affectionate, lustful, critical, envious.
There was little English spoken, but, somehow, even when Hye-Seong was not there to translate, we communicated our collective thoughts on living as self-identified women. Shared meals and a night of Karaoke (with many repeats of the song "Gangnam Style", since we were in the Gangnam section of Seoul and the song is bi-lingual) broke down many barriers. The obvious matriarch of the South Korean artists was Park Youngsook, who graciously toured us around the Bukchon Hanok Village historic area and invited us to tea.
The short time line for this project was crazy-making, but the end product and the reception by the women artists there were deeply rewarding.
I created a video of the exhibitions: vimeo.com/99755522
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