Las Vegas, the sleepless city in the middle of Nevada뭩 desert; this is where three Korean female artists, Yunsook Park, JeongMee Yoon and Eun Young Choi exhibit their work in a show titled Sugar Rush. Like the title that alludes to the temporary surge of energy that comes from sugar consumption, the theme of the exhibition is 밣op.?In other words, the show deals with popular culture or commercial consumerism ?a methodology that incessantly satisfies the fundamental desires for food, material goods, and sex by creating temporary trends or fashions. Such attributes of Pop may in fact be capable of permeating our conscious and unconscious minds with its images and thereby satisfying our copious needs while exerting control over them. We mull over how to amass more of the countless consumer products, and strive to constantly update our collection. The significance of an exhibition focusing on the ephemeral nature of Pop held in the United States, a heaven of capitalism ?particularly in the city of Las Vegas where the desires for consumption are vigorously nourished ?is thought provoking in more ways than one. So what kind of 밻nergy?does 밣op?provide us in respect to the desires of consumer culture?
Yunsook Park, one of the artists and also the curator of Sugar Rush, initially points out that Pop Art embraces the complexities of contemporary life with various images that can encompass both the critical view towards the addictive qualities of consumerism as well as its celebratory aspects of Pop뭩 cheerfulness. It may be that we are mere infatuated consumers and obsessed collectors, dazzled by commercial advertisements regardless of our will, enjoying our lives by unconsciously consuming and collecting the things that lure us. The artists present various portraits of us within consumer culture. JeongMee Yoon captures the fervent quality of collecting by little girls and boys, who seem to be obsessed with pink and blue, using portrait photography. Eun Young Choi presents an installation piece with myriads of stickers, charged with cheerful and playful energy. Yunsook Park creates a new Pop imagery by employing scratch-off lottery tickets, a symbol of human desire that dreams of instant wealth and a brand new life.
The neurotic desire to collect that is revealed in these artworks exposes the portrait of today뭩 society, which seems to have totally succumb to consumerism in a post-industrial society. At the same time, this excessiveness of collecting is also an allegory of defiance or dissatisfaction against such a culture. Ironically, it is through the insatiably consumerist and extremely fanatical aspect of desire ?that can never be satisfied ?that we get a chance to glance at our absolute dissatisfaction with today뭩 consumerism. Paradoxically, this absolute dissatisfaction may in fact be the driving force that steers our lives forward.
<Sugar Rush> January 26 through April 8
Reed Whipple Cultural Center Gallery
821 Las Vegas Boulevard North, Las Vegas, Nevada 89101, USA
Printed on DongA Weekly, Seoul, Korea, February 13, 2007