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Re-veiling and Resistance to Understanding

Claudia Pestana

The Ground
This text was originally intended as a means of addressing the work of Nayoungim & Gregory Maass. Instead it developed its own desires and now begins as a cryptic exchange departing from the following fragment: 'the time this has taken is beyond excusable.' Seemingly an apology for the failure to deliver something in a timely manner, or even a potential default on a promised course of action, this statement is directed at an unspecified reader, someone that may be an actual person or a purely fictional entity. And, this shall be left at that, without any forthcoming explanation. Questions can, however, be asked: what might such a fragment imply if the mentioned failure were to apply to the text in question? Might there be meaning behind such an inexcusable delay?  
This uncharacteristically veiled start is indicative of a stalling mechanism, of ultimately embracing delay as resistance, a resistance to presuming that a given expertise or insider knowledge affords the ability to fully understand something and to be able to explain it away or so in depth it has been explained to death. Counter to this explanatory tendency, the intention will be to uphold this resistance, propose the chronicle of a struggle, preserve private jokes, and resist with 'two feet firmly placed in the ground' the comfort of easy familiarity.
This vehement regard for opacity is not intended as an exclusivist denial of access but as an invitation to appreciate the opportunity that being confronted by a presentation of Nayoungim & Gregory Maass's practice offers to be able to stand one's own ground.  Each installation, each agglomeration of objects with their multiple references opens up worlds of materialities, visual memories, techniques and translations. Presuming to present this in a coherent text feels restrictive and counter to the experience of dealing with the paradoxical situation of recognising, possibly even being well acquainted with, the different elements that constitute the whole, and yet, not being able to determine what they have become by being articulated together. This state of slippage in meaning, almost like having a dictionary but wanting to look up definitions instead of words, allows an interlocutor to meet the challenge of constructing and extrapolating from uncertainty.
Over the course of far more months than should be confessed, an intermittent exchange was carried out, an attempt to bridge geographical and communicational distance that resulted in a collection of detours, distractions and alternative perspectives that in their exuberance and openness coalesced into the opposite of a route but which, after much rumination, indicated a miniscule, barely visible, portal into another dimension of experience. Fragments from the intermittent exchange precede what a 'bulging eyeball' was later able to perceive by peering into a formidable universe emerging just beyond its grasp...

Uncertainty ExtrapolatedSalons for the Conceptually Displaced?
"Gregory and Nayoung, I'm struggling with this text. I keep loosing my footage and slipping, feeling unable to ground myself in these references I was hoping to explore: reading Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep? and imagining the possibility of looking at the notion of 'Kipple' and some of the descriptions of landscapes where any object has been rendered meaningless by neglect. A selection of quotes felt promising.1 The idea was to think of the types of places that question what we think about how things are, what they mean, and how they work. This could perhaps apply to your installations but also to how you keep finding new contexts for the KK Gallery to operate in.
Following on, another quote2 in Dick's book led me to think it might be relevant to explore some of the descriptions of how objects can exist as art, or not, in Arthur C. Danto's The Transfiguration of the Commonplace. However, Danto's title, including his anecdote about how he came up with it, was also in the back of my mind. The next quote from Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep?3 raised the issue of not only people, but also things having no recollections or perceptions. This made me look at your installations not as something that we as viewers understand but rather as platforms for different agglomerations of materials, techniques and references to be redefined. From a conversation with Gregory, the idea of a 'Salon for the rehabilitation of the conceptually displaced' emerged as a play on Danto's title but also on the perspective that, within different contexts, concepts and objects lose their ability to signify something identifiable. What might this place where dead objects perceive nothing, this 'salon' for convalescing concepts, be? Where might concepts that coalesce from disparate sources, or that have been displaced or misunderstood go to 'rehab'? What might their 'rehabilitation' entail if they have arrived in a state where all their categories are jumbled up? And finally, what if neither the concepts nor the objects have to re-think themselves, what if that task should be up to those who come into contact with them? Then it is necessary to question how references operate and particularly what can be understood of so-called ‘popular or globalised’ references.  This then brings up a problem: should we settle for explanations from others? Can we idly survive by sitting on the sidelines critiquing/appraising/appreciating what we are given to understand?
Here (along with others attempts and references, from Chuck Palahniuk's Diary to fantastically surreal email exchanges with you) I reached an impasse in the text. In this case writing an explanatory text would make no sense...then, what type of text might work? Clearly out of my depth, a telegraphic like note from Gregory has remained lodged in my mind throughout: 'the idea of ‘salon’ to be kept and used as type of space to re-evaluate things (whether or not they get out and circulate is another issue!), the Salon as a kind of a self-contained system.'

The Clearings
Gazing through the door-viewer of a model home located next to a wedding hall in a basement of a place called the Hyundai Cultural Center, "Eyeball" is having a time-displacement, out-of body experience. Seeing numerous familiar people all gathered for the opening of an exhibition it is unclear on which side of this door the gazing is occurring. This may seem obvious since in this peculiar space these categories are blurred, but it is heightened by the fact that the gazing is also being conducted from a position of absence rather than presence. "Eyeball's" experience is, therefore, a combination of premonition, projection, hindsight, figments of imagination and, possibly the most likely source, the simple act of closely looking at photos.
This story starts months before "Eyeball" even came into disembodied consciousness. To be more precise, this story begins in the week running up to the opening of the Kim Kim Gallery's fourth show “Apples vs. Bananas.”  Although this was a solo show of Chung Seoyoung's work, the experience to be recounted here is about the actual production of this event by the Kim Kim Gallery as a work and a practice in its own right. Since there are multiple ways that artist initiatives have been exploring the potential of performing the role of galleries, including operating as artworks, this behind-the-scenes moment focuses on the type of considerations and arrangements that characterise how this initiative extends these projects beyond the mere execution of an exhibition.
With the Kim Kim Nayoungim & Gregory Maass take apart the functional structures of the art world to create spaces for the reinvention of how these communities function by mimicking them parasitically and subverting them simultaneously. Employing humour and irony in the production of the paraphernalia these activities demand, this project does not however remain at the level of the mere elaborate ruse. Instead, through dogged determination and work, the artists are able to summon a vast network of co-participants to enact each experiment. Brought together on such an occasion, there is an awareness of the roles wittingly and unwittingly played in these circumstances that contributes to the actual experience of such an exhibition. This can occur at different moments, when functioning as a potential patron, receptionist, opening guest or in some cases as someone given the privilege of being invited to share in discussing how things might come together within the available space and within the given circumstances. It is this witnessing of a stoic generosity and patience (later extended to the drafting of this text) that allows this text to have attempted to address, in absence, these two complementary yet distinct practices and propose that both suggest the creation of a clearing, a temporary reconfigurable world within realms of complexities, that exists as an ambiguous result. These worlds created by the practice of Nayoungim & Gregory Maass result from the convergence of intentionalities and serendipities, realised plans and a productive 'letting happen.' By nature of embodying these convergences in order to come into being, these worlds can be experienced as excluding and opaque...until, perhaps, we take the opportunity to acknowledge what resources we deploy when negotiating the experience of engaging with what is foreign. Then, whether witnessing one of the Kim Kim Gallery's productions or engaging with an installation by Nayoungim & Gregory Maass, we recognise the true generosity inherent to being invited in without compromise or easy reassurances.

1 Isidore said, “I’ve tried it. Once. After that I just come home and go in my own place and I don’t think about the rest. The apartments in which no one lives – hundreds of them and all full of possessions people had, like family photographs and clothes. Those that died couldn’t take anything and those that emigrated didn’t want to. This building, except for my apartment, is completely kipple-ized.
[…] Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or  gum wrappers…When no one is around, kipple reproduces itself [...]

2"Pebbles the size of houses had rolled to a stop next to one another and he thought, ‘It’s like a shipping room when all the merchandise has left.’ Only fragments of crates remain, the containers which signify nothing in themselves."

3"Here there existed no one to record his or anyone else’s degradation, and any pride or courage which might manifest itself here at the end would go unmarkedthe dead stones, the dust-stricken weeds dry and dying, perceived nothing, recollected nothing, about him or themselves…"