Contemporary South Korean art has a strong leaning towards the surreal, as witnessed in Sung Hwan Kim’s commission for The Tanks at Tate Modern. Couple this with the Hayward Gallery’s knack for spotting outsider artists and visitors to the Project Space should brace themselves for something truly outlandish. The School of Inversion doesn’t disappoint.
Kim Beom’s installation in the Hayward welcomes viewers with a video of gazelles chasing cheetahs. This links in with a theme of this exhibition that information provided by credible sources (teachers, parents or nature documentaries) are taken as gospel by children.
The exhibition also explores whether inanimate objects change through experience. A video shows Beom reciting poetry to a rock and asks whether we now view it differently once we know it’s a ‘scholar’. This inanity is taken a step forward with a classroom installation where household objects from washing up liquid to a kettle sit on chairs as they look upon a blackboard and watch an educational video covering scientific theories on the differences between humanity and objects. Including an explanation of why all humans are treated when ‘damaged’ but objects are often thrown away, it’s essentially a finishing school preparing these everyday items for the world outside.
We’re not sure if there is a deeper message to Beom’s work or if it’s even meant to be taken seriously, but its sheer absurdity made us smile.
Kim Beom: The School of Inversion is on at the Project Space, Hayward Gallery until 2 September. Admission is free.
The perplexing and often inspired Invisible: Art about the Unseen is also still on at the Hayward Gallery.