Sculpture magazine
January/February 2009 (page 78~79)


Ran Hwang
2x13 gallery

Seoul's dynamic art secene owes as much to its rich cultural legacy as it does to globalist trends, for it is here that East meets West and Japan meets China. The resulting cross-fertilization is apparent in the enthusiasm for Korean diaspora artist as well as in the burgeoning presence of satellite organizations such as the Seoul branch of the New York-based artist, was chosen for the gallery's inaugural show. For many years, Hwang has been creating works involving Eastern religious philosophies. However, for this exhibition, she has broken new ground: her work has always critiqued religion by trivializing spirtuality while depicting its appropriation by popular culture, but she has recently intensified her concerntration on aspects of commodification, Rather than dealing with religious ideas, she emphasizes women as they relate to the marketing strategies of fashion industry. This is evident not only in her themes, but also in her use of materials such as crystals, buttons, threads, colored wires, and other glittery elements that reference fashion or jewelry.

Chandelier Woman(2007) consists of a three-quarter silhouette:the figure's swan-neck is embellished by a gold thread necklace, her upper torso dotted in pearls, her ears hung with large pearl earings, and her head bedecked with a floppy hat made of faceted crystals in the form of a chandelier. The silhouette is cut out of Plexiglas and mounted seamlessly on handmade paper. The figure is reflected on the paper as an outline, giving the inpression that it is drawn rather than sculpted and thus blurring the boundaries between sculpture and drawing.

Hwang's choice of common materials can also be seen as an effort to break down the boundaries between everyday life ad high art.

Garden of Light(2007), which can be associated with Zen meditative aesthetics through repetition, marks Hwang's move away from wall assemblages. In this site-specific installation, eight plexigals panels are hung intermittently and pierced by long pins threaded with crystals that combine to form gardens or fantastic environments. In the darkened room, color refractions from a video component are projected onto the structrue, resulting in myriad reflections of soft colors.The light arising from the moving crystals and the video light that changes according to audience participation work together to produce a multi-layered work akin to the artist's moods, ranging from sadness to joy. Through her use of glamorized female images, Hwang points out the capitalist exploitation of women as sexualized consumers and unobtainable sex fetishes associated with copulation and titillation. By highlighting these componets, she hopes to overcome arising from such constructs that exploit the gaze.

                                                                                - Thalia Vrachopoulos