Sowon Kwon, dongghab
Softcover, 48 pp., offset 4/2, 5.5 x 7 inches
Edition of 500
Published by Vermont College of Fine Arts
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traces an online search in which the point of departure is the discovery that the publication of Edward Ruscha’s Twentysix Gasoline Stations
and the suicide of Sylvia Plath by oven gas both occurred in 1963, the year of Kwon’s birth. Cued by Ruscha’s seminal work, Kwon unveils an uncanny cosmology of events constellated by the convergence of “1963” with “gasoline” such as the assassination of Medgar Evers (after having lead a successful boycott of white-owned gasoline stations in Jackson, Mississippi) and the self-immolation of Thich Quang Duc in Saigon (in protest of the oppression of Buddhists by the Catholic administration of then president Ngo Dinh Diem), among others. The Korean word dongghab
describes a social relationship between people born in the same year, so that the idea of a (self) portrait as socially contingent and historically determined as much as individuated, informs the book.
New York-based artist Sowon Kwon works in a range of media including sculptural and video installations, digital animation, drawing, and printmaking. Her recent work explores portraiture, perception, and historical memory as our bodies are increasingly submitted to and made accessible through technology. She has had solo exhibitions at The Kitchen in New York City, Matrix Gallery/Berkeley Art Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris (now Altria).