Guttin’n Out
Video Documentation

Art Center College of Design, 2017
New Wight Gallery, UCLA, 2018
Torrance Art Museum, 2018  
(Osang Gwon, Junghwa Hong, Daivd Jang, Young Joon Kwak, Kang Seung Lee, Nam Jun Paik, Kyungryul Park, Song W. Park, Hwan Kwon Yi, Haena Yoo)

Guttin’ n out, an installation constructed with found materials, video, sound, and smell, explores themes of labor, identity, and global capitalism. Gut (noun) means a stomach or belly; gutting (verb) means to remove intestines and other internal organs from an animal before cooking it. Considering a papier mâché sculpture blocking a doorway as a gut, viewers can see each side of the gut while visiting two gallery spaces - just like two sides of coin: one is cave-shape made from cardboard boxes containing a heated popcorn machine sculpture, another is North Korean propaganda posters mingled with Downeys. 

With the junction of these, the first gallery in this show is a brisk global market space with accumulated objects, sound, and projection; whereas the second is an empty and solitary space containing only a sole sculpture of a utopian image of North Korea. Both look seemingly beautiful yet each conceals a harsh reality. The gut, In(side) and Out(side) of gallery spaces deals with relations of capitalism and communism, which are opposites but still interdependent. 

The installation is conceived of street markets in Los Angeles. The three umbrella tables are DIY sculptures made of found materials from the Alameda Swap Meet, Chinatown, Koreatown, or South LA. I want them to imply the levels of the classes, the urgency of circumstance, and the lives of survivalism (with my limited access.) Local street markets have been universal throughout history, but are now becoming more specialized for tourism or are in decline due to the expansions of big corporate supermarkets. Overtaken by global franchises, we’ve become more familiar with packaged food and invisible labors. Furthermore, as Mike David says, we’re witnessing an accumulation of objects and people becoming surplus in the late capitalism, as we wander, trying to find the access or exit. In my own market, the flow of people, capital, and pure ideas is present, yet there also exists instability. Left behind the scenes of street market, unpredictable market forces overwhelm us. In the midst of this we sometimes feel estranged and alienated.
Each table embodies the collective narration as represented by three grains: rice, corn and wheat. Each of them is culturally different and anonymous. A mound of wheat (flour) on the table covers the format of the pre-capitalistic game Monopoly and samples of packaged foods. Rice Krispies as a culturally transformed form itself, is mingled with the fetishization of westernized beauty products. Blank California driver’s licenses printed on tortillas brings up questions about illegal immigrant issues. Why do they (or I) want to immigrate whether it is illegal or not? Accumulating, mingling, co-existing, tackling is the currency of our market. Meanwhile, a heap of fresh popcorn puffed out of the popcorm machine is ready to be eaten, to be a part of (real) body of viewers, as like innocent capital submerged in individual. 

In Korea in January 2017 at the Kawngjang farmers’ market, the oldest local market in downtown Seoul, I walked down the street, vendors spoke to me in Japanese or Chinese. It confused me. The street market is now grown as a well-known tourist place. Is it that the locals don’t shop here anymore, as the market has become a tourist destination or is it just that they prefer big corporatized markets? 

Overwhelmed by the potential of globalized implications under the umbrellas made me feel odd, nauseated, and disoriented. Here, with the warmth of cooking temperatures, hustling with vendors to gain more coins, or roars of laughter, the familiar scene at a franchised grocery store appears again.