The Showroom presents the first UK iteration of Dawn Breaks, an ongoing project by two Korean artists of different generations: Jewyo Rhii and Jihyun Jung. The collaboration began at the Queens Museum, New York (2015) and has since evolved through presentations at the Gwangju Biennale (2016) and at the Art Sonje Center in Seoul (2017), where they produced an ongoing series of sculptural works that function as storytelling devices, creating a moveable collective theatre in which narratives and performances are drawn from conversations.
The installation at The Showroom includes existing sculptural pieces from earlier iterations of Dawn Breaks combined with newly produced works that have been created onsite. These use materials such as wood, metal, mirrors, and an array of leftover objects found in the local area and repurposed for the project.
Rhii and Jung invited a group of participants from The Showroom’s neighbourhood to collaborate on a series of workshops that took place at The Showroom in the lead up to the exhibition. The participants each brought an object to the workshops, which they have used as catalysts for telling stories from personal memories.
The installation and sculptural machinery in the space were adapted by the artists in response to their stories. Over a focused period of storytelling and making, the final installation at The Showroom has been tailor-made for the participants to use as tools to tell their own stories. The group now has a shared understanding of how each of the mobile theatres operate, enabling the telling and re-telling of their stories over time. Operating independently and in dialogue with one another, the objects will be manipulated, moved and transformed according to the specifics of their locality.
Rhii and Jung have entrusted the participants with the care and future use of these collective theatres. For the duration of Dawn Breaks at The Showroom, they will become the directors, actors and set designers of their own productions, within which they may open up the invitation to others to participate. Their stories will be told and retold throughout the exhibition, repeating and evolving as their narratives intertwine between the works and build new plots in an ongoing cycle.
The first performances took place on the opening night, Thursday 9 December, 6.30–8.30pm, as a series of short ‘trailers’ or demonstrations to introduce audiences to the use and function of each mobile theatre. The second performance, led by the participants, took place on Wednesday 13 December.
Contributors to the production and delivery of Dawn Breaks at The Showroom include Ismail Ali, Jaepil Eun, Afri Harry, Seeun Kim, Sooyon Kim, Sunmin Kim, Caroline Mawer, Victory Milentijevic-Goodfellow, Marjane Moghimi, Boram Moon and Jie-young Song.
Running alongside this project Jewyo Rhii presents The Day 3, Walls and Barbed, the inaugural exhibition at Amanda Wilkinson Gallery, which runs until 21 January 2018.
Dawn Breaks is a collaboration with the Korean Cultural Centre UK as part of the Korea/UK Season 2017–2018, and is co-curated with Je Yun Moon. The exhibition is supported by the Korean Cultural Centre UK, Henry Moore Foundation and The Elephant Trust.
The Korea/UK Season 2017–2018 is a programme of extensive cultural activities taking place across the UK. The season sees multiple institutions present exhibitions, performances, residencies, workshops and public art installations of Korean artists throughout 2017–2018. The KCCUK is lead partner of the season, supporting external projects as well as hosting exhibitions. Collaborating institutions include V&A, Frieze London, British Ceramic Biennial, ICA, Art Night, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Delfina Foundation, Eastside Projects, Fact, Gasworks, Hayward Gallery, Liverpool Biennial, Locus +, The New Art Exchange, Nottingham Contemporary, Site Gallery, Spacex, Spike Island and Wysing Arts Centre. The Korea/UK season runs parallel to the UK/Korea season which takes place in Korea, and is supported by the British Council. Both seasons endeavour to strengthen the relationship between the two countries and form new cultural and creative partnerships.