Sowon Kwon — dongghab
The point of departure for this series was the discovery that the publication of Edward Ruscha’s seminal work Twenty Six Gasoline Stations and the suicide of Sylvia Plath by oven gas both occurred in 1963, the year of my birth. Subsequent web searches unveiled an uncanny cosmology of events constellated by the convergence of “1963” with “gasoline” such as the assassination of Medgar Evers (after having led a successful boycott of white-owned gasoline stations in Jackson, Mississippi) and the self-immolation of the Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc in Saigon, among others. The Korean word dongghab describes a social relationship between people born in the same year. So the idea of a (self) portrait as socially contingent and historically determined as much as individuated drives the series.
Sowon Kwon is an artist based in New York City. Her sculptural and video installations, animations, drawings, and prints have been featured in exhibitions nationally at the Whitney Museum, The Kitchen, The Drawing Center, the Berkeley Art Museum, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and MOCA LA among others; as well as internationally, at the 2000 Gwangju Biennale in Korea and the 2001 Yokohama Triennale in Japan. Selected works from the dongghab series can currently be seen in the traveling exhibition transPOP: Korea Vietnam Remix (ARKO Art Center, Seoul, Korea; Viet Art Centre, Hanoi, Viet Nam; The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA).