5 Jan 2021 — 6 Feb 2021
스나크: 붙잡는 순간 사라지는 것들
The Snark: Suddenly Vanishing Away

The exhibition The Snark: Suddenly Vanishing Away features artwork that reflects on the “Snark,” a figure in the eight-part epic nonsense literature poem The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits (1876) by Lewis Carroll (1832-1898). It is the adventure tale of people from different professions who sail off together to capture the Snark, an imaginary animal of ambiguous nature. As they hunt the beast, they each imagine the object of their fear and anxiety as they perceive it. The Snark is thus presented as an unfamiliar being with both a fluid and mutable identity and no identity at all; not present in reality, it is the common target of the characters who appear, and at the same time it operates as another fearsome fiction produced from within inner desire and emptiness. What the exhibition focuses upon is the Snark as a presence that abandons all logic and order, stitched together against the backdrop of the object’s dark shadow. It speaks to the objects and situations that potentially threaten us at any moment in our actual lives. It may represent an allegory for our attitude in facing loneliness, crisis, frustration, and silence in our most private moments.

Drawing on the format of the fragmented narrative of hunting “Snarks” - objects/situations with multiple forms and meanings - the exhibition brings together five artists working in different media (painting, sculpture, photography, and video), exploring the ways in which each of them faces their fears. Alternating between reality and an imaginary world that only they can approach, they follow the emotional path described by the characters. The artists - Jong Oh, Jeongsu Woo, Eun Chun, Minhong Pyo, and Sueyon Hwang - focus on visual fantasy through their work, feeling about for the inherent imaginary meaning underneath the epic’s suitable scenario, realistic depictions, and text. With this exhibition, the approach to fantasy is akin to making the unseen visible and expressing the unsaid. Drawing on the motif of the Snark - a form of text where language exists in a potential state prior to the subject being concretely expressed - the exhibition draws out the individual language intrinsic to each artist’s work.

The five artists’ languages are like the stages where nonsense languages come together for a debate, revealing different levels of potentiality as they deconstruct established systems of meaning and conventional frameworks of linguistic perception. The nonsense logic that the exhibition draws upon is more than just a fictional device providing a sense of plausibility for the viewer; it illustrates the identity and nature of “nonsense” itself. The space in which the five artists’ works are situated is thus presented in such a way that unseen fears and anxieties can be perceived at a visual and sensory level - thus addressing aspects of reality that cannot be separated from reality. Moreover, the five languages are not confined to the role of representing a personified Snark that appears as the subject of utterances; they broaden the sensory domains that exist within language itself, reversing the relationships that exist among the individual works. It is like a tug-of-war where the object’s fluid and changeable identity is situated as an antipode.

The nimble movements exchanged among the five artists in The Snark: Suddenly Vanishing Away involving represent the objects of fear and anxiety that each of them confronts, while discovering the common meaning of life in the spatial distances and temporal divides. The last scene of the poem shows a character disappearing the moment he believes he has captured the Snark. The presences that cause us anxiety and fear may ultimately lie within ourselves - objects without reality. An ordinary being’s interior represents the realm where they are least infringed upon, and when we consider it to be something that goes beyond survival to rejoice in intangible things beyond our grasp, it seems ironically to occupy a space midway between comedy and tragedy as we accept a kind of human destiny of having to leave behind fixed identity to wrestle with the self. In particular, the anxiety attendant on an unbridgeable break in relations between ourselves and others stems from an attempt to find the many “selves” within us, and rather than fixing our identity in place, we deliberately knock on the door of those presences and observe them in order to pry into the cracks we find within. The anxiety that we seek to pin down vanishes suddenly without a trace the moment it seems to enter our grasp, and then appears again to stand before us.