Sleepers in Venice – The Purgatory of Desires

Directing and Curating

    2015. 5.7 – 2015. 6. 7

   Location: Calle del Carbon, San Marco 4179, Venice, Italy

   Curating and directing

   Assistant Curator: Hansol Choi

   Artist: Jia Chang, Hyunjoon E, Deokyeoung Gim, Eemyun Kang, Woody Kim, Hyeyoung Ku, MR 36 (Moz Kim & Ryoni) and Mark Walliger

   Sponsored by : Arts Council Korea, Korean Air , α 7s

The Sleepers in Venice exhibition’ was curated by Stephanie Seungmin Kim when she invited eight Korean artists, with the British artist Mark Wallinger in an advisory role, during the 2015 Venice Biennale. The exhibition was prompted by Stephanie Seungmin Kim’s idea of making a connection between what she feels when she visits the Venice Biennale as a curator with human being who are helpless when confronted with the conflation of desire and intellect. She also linked her ideas with those of the German writer, Thomas Mann, presented in his novella Der tod in Venerdig  [Death in Venice]. The physical locus of artists’ fantasy, the Venice Biennale, seems attractive on the face of it, but artists have reported feeling nauseous and impatient in the face of desire and intellect. In the process, the curator was inspired by Mark Wallinger’s own video work Sleeper in which he wanted to express the anguish of artists who were bound to monolithic arts institutions such as art museums.

Stephanie Seungmin Kim observed that this work had a connection with her plans for plans for Sleepers in Venice project and contacted him directly; this led Wallinger participating in the exhibition as an invitation artist and advisor. The term ‘Sleeper’, the main subject of the exhibition, is a reference to term for a spy who lies low, or ‘sleeps’ before a period of espionage activity. In this context, artists and people involved in the cultural industries with the potential to grow both inside and outside of Korea can be thought as ‘sleepers’. The Sleepers in Venice exhibition attracted the attention of the media from many countries; and over 5000 people visited the exhibition.

The curator also wanted to produce a film of the exhibition with Sleepers Summit team, and its form and content, which could be presented and viewed without the time and space constraints of a real-life exhibition. Accordingly, the preparation and process of the exhibition was shot and edited by film producer, Steve M. Choe.