This programme surveys more than a decade of moving image works by South Korean artist Donghee Koo, from her first video Tragedy Competition (2004) to her most recent CrossXpollination (2016). Highly staged, her videos portray the banality of life interrupted by accidental situations. Whilst early works such as Tragedy Competition and The King Fish(2008) (as well as Overloaded Echo screened at Tate Modern in 2015 in the context of Embeddedness: Artist Films and Videos from Korea 1960s to Now), draw their inspiration – both formally and from the point of view of their narrative construction – from television competition shows, and their cruelty, more recent videos Under the Vein: I spell on you (2012) and CrossXpollination are more poetic and mysterious, almost like sensuous puzzles from which Koo has removed any explanatory element.
Attempting to externalise internal impressions, Koo uses objects, spaces, animals – often aquatic – and actors, who are having to respond in real time to unrehearsed situations. As Gwak Yeong Bin has noted, Koo’s work is driven by a discerning sense of time, which is no longer ‘absolute’ but can be accelerated and decelerated at will. For Koo, time seems to be in ruins, affected by a prior catastrophe. The result is a form of melancholy which is neither sadness nor mourning: ‘post-melancholy’.
Tragedy Competition (Koo Donghee, 2003, 15 min 45 sec)
The King Fish Director (Koo Donghee, 2008, 34 min 15 sec)
Under the Vein; I Spell on You Director (Koo Donghee, 2012, 15 min 30 sec)
CrossXPollination (Koo Donghee, 2016, 23 min 50 sec)