Ji Su Kwak

Living & working in Suwon, Korea

In-Between States
Curated by Lucy Stranger
ACRE Projects
1345 W. 19th St, Chicago, IL
October 4th - 31th, 2019
Opening Reception @ October 4th, 2019, 6 - 9 PM

In-Between States explores the transnational experience of existing across countries, in a constant state of being connected to multiple places. Working between the US and their home countries over an extended period of time, Dominga Opazo (Chile), Ji Su Kwak (South Korea) and Renee Yu Jin (China) create work not limited by a singular framework, or cultural view. In this liminal, global state they are able to deconstruct and blur boundaries that create distinction between places, social and political conventions.  

Engaging in the act of mapping with tapestry, installation and drawing, each artist uses this process as a way to model or decode the places they encounter. In their outsider status the artists explore the push and pull of “home” and the unfamiliar, unpacking notions of distance and proximity, absence and presence, and the real and imagined.

Transient and ephemeral, the works embody in form and content the concept of being in a state of shift over an extended period of time. Through this state the artists are able to re-evaluate societal conventions that change with place, redefining the self and the body in relation to human relationships, the environment and architectures of home, family and country.

Port of Call
Curated by Ahmed Ozsever
Chicago Art Department
1932 S. Halsted St, North Gallery, Chicago, IL
February 8th - March 9th, 2019
Opening Reception @ February 8th, 2019, 6 - 10 PM

Port of Call is a shipping industry term referring to the stops that a vessel makes throughout its voyage. Its secondary and vernacular definition refers to “any of a number of places that a person visits in succession.” The adjacency of these term creates an analogy between humans and the infrastructure of global shipping. A Port is a location that is both transient and permanent. They are permanent fixtures to house impermanent vessels, goods, and bodies. Ports act as punctuation marks in the language of global infrastructures. These pauses and hesitations are the sites where human experience is sutured to that of cargo as it passes amongst locations.

Port of Call seeks to locate how infrastructure constructs and shapes individual experience, sense of place, and conception of time. The exhibition channels this relationship through the lens of mediation and technology, material, labor, and memory. Port of Call visualizes the subjective traces of human presence in physical structures–both those that are highly visible and the unseen or forgotten–on personal and collective senses of place and identity.

A Perfect Measurement
Curated by Jin Woo Chung
SITE Galleries
280 S. Columbus Dr., Suite 113, Chicago, IL
January 29th - February 6th, 2019
Opening Reception @ January 29th, 2019, 4:15 - 6 PM

A Perfect Measurement explores the idea of measuring that is used to define, categorize, and control the unknown. While methods of examining value have evolved throughout history, the origin of these systems and how they impact our lives have been seldom considered. To reveal the invisible side of defining and dividing, curator Jin Woo Chung (BFA 2019) brings together artists Seomy Ahn (MFA 2019), Cynthia (MFA 2019), Sujin Moon (MFA 2019), Cherrie Yu (MFA 2019), and Ji Su Kwak (BFA 2019), who all use conventionalized measuring systems in their work.

Artificial Landscape
SITE Galleries
280 S. Columbus Dr., Suite 113, Chicago, IL
December 6th - 14th, 2018
Opening Reception @ December 6th, 2018, 4 - 6 PM

Artificial Landscape addresses the relationship between the natural and digital worlds by bringing seven artists together. The rapid advancement of technology, which is used to produce art today, creates this connection between the natural and the technological. This leads to the creation and manipulation of an uncanny landscape of nostalgia. This relationship manifests through many different materials and approaches. There are artists, such as Sarah Rose, Minshuo Tang, and Terrell Davis, who attempt to re-create and distort what we consider to be the natural using technology. On the other hand, there are artists, such as Arne Asumai, Ji Su Kwak, and Phoebe Chin, who formulate an idealized nature born out of nostalgia and a longing to return to a certain time and space.”

Alienable Rights
Curated by Paul Melvin Hopkin & Jeffrey Grauel
2153 W. 21st St., Chicago, IL
September 8th - October 6th, 2018
Opening Reception @ September 8th, 2018, 6 - 9 PM

“I am one of those people whose presence raises questions. I am very often greeted with, ‘where you from’ even in the town where I grew up.  ...You’re in somebody else’s house. You are not in charge… Part of being from is an embodiment of what is thought to typify a place, a way of being. Ji Su Kwak reflects on her outside status with a deadpan gaze at someone else’s way of looking. She gathers snapshots from strangers. Who knows what they mean to the folks who took them. There is a sense of remove, a gap between a mnemonic device that recalls a memory and an image removed of its narrative content. We are left uncertain. The images feel familiar, more so because likenesses are lost in Ji Su’s simplifications. We have been there, made that gesture, shared a drink or the meal, gathered to be included in the group that was there. Pushing the shutter release defines the group, or reasserts its definitions. Drawing these images does something else. Asks questions about nostalgia more than steeping in it. Refuses to recognize. Sees from further away without actually being further away.

Amaranth Borsuk and Julie Wills wrestle with aphorisms. They uncover something about truth: it is locally produced. The tenor of moral declaration stems from familiarity rather than a self-evident quality. Amaranth and Julie address language in a call-and-response format, mirroring the malleability of things we hold so dear, so true, so foundational. When we are not in the place where values or identities come from, the inner workings of structures come into play, and with a bit of work that play can lead us to focus.

The approaches come together in the contradictions they share. The conflation of presence and absence. Uncovering ticks and tricks of letting in and keeping out. Longing to be inside when inside looks exactly like where you already are.”

A Call to Action: Seeking Justice for "Comfort Women" Roundtable Discussion
KAN-WIN Community Room,
1440 Renaissance Drive, Suite 460, Park Ridge, IL
3 – 5 PM, Sat, April 28th, 2018

Why is it important for us to remember the history of “comfort women”? How can we draw global attention to the issues more effectively? What can we do now to contribute to the conversation?

This roundtable discussion will examine the challenges and ways forward in promoting justice for “comfort women.” Anyone willing to share their thoughts and build a network of support in bringing awareness to the issues of “comfort women” is welcome!

SAIC SHOW 2018 Spring Undergraduate Exhibition
Sullivan Galleries, School of the Art Institute of Chicago,
33 S. State, 7th floor, Chicago, IL
March 10th - 30th, 2018
Reception @ March 10th, 2018, 12 - 6 PM

Necessary Discomfort: "Comfort Women" in Art & Activism Symposium
The LeRoy Neiman Center 1st Floor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago,
37 S. Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL
Day 1: 4:30 – 7 PM, Thu, March 8, 2018
Day 2: 4:30 – 6:30 PM, Fri, March 9, 2018

A two-day symposium on "comfort women," referring to women across Korea, China, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Burma, and Indonesia who were sexually enslaved by the Imperial Japanese Army from 1932 to 1945.

The symposium will focus on the issues around "comfort women" in the context of international human rights with emphasis on art and activism for social justice. A central question this symposium will address is: what role does art play in addressing collective trauma? The mission of the symposium is to emphasize artistic practices as a powerful cultural tool that directs public impact towards a transnational movement for human rights.
Necessary Discomfort: "Comfort Women" in Art & Activism Symposium Featured in FNewsmagazine

Top 10 Artists of the Year 2017 Award
selected by Circle Foundation for the Arts located in Lyon, France.
My work and interview will be featured in Circle Quarterly Art Review.

ArtMaze Mag Anniversary Autumn Issue 5
Curated Selection by Jacob Rhodes, Director and Co-Founder of Field Projects Gallery, New York.

The issue is available for purchase at McNally Jackson Books, NY; Do You Read Me?!, Berlin, Germany; White Cube Gallery & MagCulture, London; Magalleria, Bath; Magazine Brighton, Brighton, UK; P A P E R C U T, Stokholm, Sweden; Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum, Amsterdam, Netherlands and via ArtMaze Mag online shop.

Send Your Location
Curated by Zara Monica Wee & Haley Jung
33 Orchard Gallery
33 Orchard Street, New York, NY
Pop-up @ August 25th, 2017, 5 PM - 9 PM

"Relocation is only a step (in a series of steps with unknown length) towards where I belong to."

Sparked by the ceaseless movement in and out of New York City, "send your location" embraces the act of migration charged by our restless ambitions. The exhibition celebrates the impulse and pursuit of artistic endeavors despite the nebulousness of relocation. The pop-up emphasizes the transient nature of its resident artists while flirting with the idea of permanence.

Iterative Information, Origin Ongoing
Curated by Adia Sykes & Alden Burke
Dean's Office, School of the Art Institute of Chicago,
37 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL
June 28th - October 6th, 2017

The Dispensables
Crude Creatures Contemporary Art Gallery
1747 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL
Nov 13th - Dec 7th, 2015
Opening @ November 13th, 2015, 6 - 10 PM

As imperfect beings, humans desire infinite potential despite their inevitably limited time and ability. Although we continuously frame ideas and eliminate the undefined in attempts to seek clarity, our lives remain as the continuum of equivocality. In such equivocality filled with the repetitive acts of categorizing and effacing, The Dispensables aims to reconsider categories/frames/distinctions per se.

The Dispensables occupies the transient, conceptual space where the distinctions between Art and Life, Persona and Ego, Idea and Reality are blurred. Through communications facilitated by this temporal blurring of distinctions, the presented objects and performances search for the meaning of perpetually equivocal life in the ephemerally ambiguous space – among prevalent uncertainty, what is “dispensable?”