The universality of misogyny
"When I went to New York in 1992, I recognized that there was a genre called installation art, and had an idea that I will pop out from walls. I wanted to pop out from walls, from stuffy walls." -Yun Suk-nam
Reminiscent of the Dadaist and Surrealist objects that lost their function to be transformed into something attractive and unsettling, the Godmother of Korean Feminist Art has produced beautifully upholstered armchairs and sofas that you cannot sit on. I love the contrast between the sumptuous pink silk and the metal spikes. Freudian readings aside, they express the anxiety and the oppression experienced by the artist in her domestic environment.
With this work, Yun Suk-nam's challenges the gendered order of Korean society by reclaiming the domestic space. Which is exactly what Martha Rosler did with her seminal video Semiotics of the Kitchen. And Judy Chicago with her collaborative Womanhouse installation, which included Miriam Schapiro's Dollhouse. Of course it is, because home is the symbolic space where women are expected to govern and thrive, the same place where they also disappear and lose their identity. Those walls Yun Suk-nam wanted to pop out of.
Only yesterday I was reading that South Korea is grappling with a mounting wave of raging anti-feminist sentiment, which is clearly tantamount to misogyny. Groups of angry men have been protesting in the streets and in the manosphere, claiming 'feminism is a mental illness'. Three-times Olympic gold medallist An San has been targeted for sporting a short haircut, as if she had given up being a real woman. A local rapper has been ranting against the feminist movement, with lyrics along the lines of: "Hey if you want those rights so bad, why aren’t you going to the military?”
I know nothing about South Korea and its culture, but I suppose the real question is: are women ever going to stop paying for men's insecurities?
Pink sofa, 2004
© Yun Suk-nam