“<PEACEMINUSONE> is an exhibition designed to enhance the public’s interest in the contemporary art while raising the encounters of art and pop culture based on the collaboration of artists of home and abroad with G-Dragon the icon of pop culture beyond the domain of a musician,” reads a black and white poster in both Korean and English at the entrance of the PEACEMINUSONE exhibit at the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA).
While the grammar is lacking, and a bit confusing, the meaning is clear. The point of PEACEMINUSONE, I believe, was to draw fans of K-pop group BIGBANG to one of Seoul’s museums. And it worked; I wasn’t the only one at the museum that day specifically because I wanted to take a look at what the leader of BIGBANG had curated. G-Dragon (Kwon Jiyong), one of South Korea’s most exemplary musicians and fashion icons, collaborated with foreign and domestic artists to create the exhibit.
PEACEMINUSONE, representing the current state of humanity, was split up into two parts; the first focused on G-Dragon’s career and artistry and was called “Non(fiction) Museum.” Costumes and sets seen in the music videos of BIGBANG and G-Dragon’s solos were displayed artistically alongside other images. A ticking clock in the middle, with G-Dragon’s “Coup D’Etat” altered peace sign logo, stood ominously in the middle of the room. Mirrors of varying sizes distorted reflections, matching the distorted images of G-Dragon and nude bodies that were featured in several different artworks.
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The whole portion of the exhibit, with over a dozen art installations in just one room, dreary and bright all at once, seemed to be a visualization of what it’s like to be inside G-Dragon’s brain. One poster explained that portion of the exhibit as “a museum made of actual and virtual stories of G-Dragon intermingled.”
The second half of the exhibit was less focused on G-Dragon personally, and instead highlighted the individual artists and their perceptions of reality. Many of the artworks used photography, lights, and screens to warp what the viewer is looking at, and several pieces seemed to highlight the controlled view of the world that modern media portrays. While the first half of the museum depicted G-Dragon’s take on reality, the second portion of PEACEMINUSONE seemed like an attack on the media’s perception of the world.
A mise-en-scene sculpture and video piece by one of the artists, Kijong Zin, scaled down BIGBANG’s five members and made an example of seeing just what the camera lens glosses over. One artwork, Michael Scoggin’s “Hello! My Friend G-Dragon” features G-Dragon “existing in the imaginary world which is the image shown through the media.” Several artworks used video sculptures and actual sculptures together to depict altered realities.
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Before the third portion of the exhibit, museum-goers were urged to partake in the interactive “Talk To G-Dragon” activity, where people could write a message to G-Dragon.
The final artwork of the exhibit was entitled “Room No. 8” and was a collaboration between G-Dragon and Silo Lab_Zizizik, the only physical installation credited to G-Dragon. Mixing G-Dragon’s voice and image walking across multiple screens in a darkly room, “Room No. 8” felt purposely ominous to depict what the exhibit called the BIGBANG rapper’s “inner truths.”
As homage to G-Dragon, PEACEMINUSONE isn’t like anything any K-pop artist has ever done before and offers a drearier look into G-Dragon’s on and off-stage persona than is usually depicted in the Korean media.
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