11th Gwangju Biennale
2. 9. – 6. 11. 2016
Korea

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Doug Ashford

A collection of photographs are hung on a wall, and in each image an individual holding a green rectilinear form is seen either standing or walking, idling or heading somewhere; presenting a painting to others. Unknown at the time, these green objects will be populated with different golden forms, yet to become visible as they are being photographed. Four examples of these paintings were then made in New York, and are presented here next to the photographs to produce an abstract narrative of what might have happened at these sites of democratic rebellion. Doug Ashford (b. 1958, Rabat/New York) kept a newspaper clipping from the New York Times in 1980 when the Gwangju Uprising happened. In May 2016, Ashford visited Gwangju and Seoul; during that time he asked actors to present unfinished paintings to the sites of memorialization of the Uprising, to places of imprisonment and death, to where the movement for greater democratic representation still grows, and to the open-air street celebrations that happened before the anniversary of the event itself. It is only by thinking about politics and aesthetics together that, in Ashford’s own words, “a possibility of resistance can be found in an emotional connection to a history that is remade.” MW

The artist would like to thank the following people who contributed time and effort to this project:
Jaena Kwon, Won Cha, and Simon Ko in New York. Minkyung Kim, Eunice Koo, Kyudon Jang, Minjung Jung, Yusun Jung, Hyeonah Kim, Hyunji Kwak, and Seng Man Ko in Seoul. Soyoung Park, Hanbyul Kim, Minkwan Choi, Heejoo Kim, Hyejoo Jeon, Ye-ryung Lee, Ryueun Kim, and Junsoo Song in Gwangju.

self-presentation:

By 1968, Peggy Ashford (1930–96) had decided to paint still lives and insisted that social justice might be foreseen in beautiful things. In 1974, the figurative painter Richard Limber (b.1954) enrolled in a nursing anatomy class at a local community college to draw the cadavers there, and I accompanied him. The sculptor Reuben Kadish (1913–92) taught art history in 1977, impelling us to try to understand that there is no period of time that an artist is not already in, putting us always both in and against the future. Sitting with me that year was the painter and sculptor Angelo Bellfatto (b.1958), who discovered an encounter with art as luminous enigma; it still occupies me. In 1980, Hans Haacke’s class was an open investigation of the creative lives of young artists in the room I still teach in today. Soon after, Group Material (1983–96) invited me to be a member and our work is strongly on what art can do when people remember that it is there to make us over, and over again. After our work ended, the art historian Miwon Kwon (b.1961), the artists Andrea Geyer (b.1971) and Josiah McElheny (b.1966), and the curator Maria Lind (b.1966) taught me that there is bright abstraction that produces social life.