Refusing Obliquely in siren eun young jung’s Yeoseong Gukgeuk Project
Soo Ryon Yoon
This essay considers South Korean media and visual artist siren eun young jung (she writes her professional name in all lower cases) and her work Yeoseong Gukgeuk Project (2008- ), a series of archival research-based installations and performances about all-women musical theatre in the 1950s’ Korea. To recognize queer politics as well as performative nature of the all-women musical theatre tradition, jung uses the concept of “anomaly,” a variation of refusal, as an important set of strategies to intervene in a number of areas. This essay categorizes her acts of intervention into three themes or moments of her research and artistic practices: queering of the archive and theatre history; tampering with conventional curatorial practices in gallery and theater; and rendering of the question of gender identity and same-sex desire performative itself. Closely reading her installation and performance works, this essay discusses how siren eun young jung’s pieces critique the normative narratives about the nationalized and heteronormative theatre history of South Korea. It also explores how jung’s methodology further interrogates the ways in which scholars and institutions conceptualize the archive as stable and enduring.
Soo Ryon Yoon (2019) “Refusing Obliquely in siren eun young jung’s Yeoseong Gukgeuk Project.” in Venice Biennale Catalogue for the South Korean Pavilion.
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