Go to content

KF Global Center

Social Media YouTube twitter facebook blog


Salt of the Jungle

Date 2017-08-14 Event period 2017-08-17 ~ 2017-10-18 Read 1711

《정글의 소금》展/Salt of the Jungle/2017. 8. 17 – 10. 18/  KF Gallery

Art Labor Collective, Do Thanh Lang(Đỗ Thanh Lãng), Young Zoo IM, Hyejin Jo, BoMin Kim, Eunsae Lee, Lin+Lam, mixrice, Nguyen Duc Dat(Nguyễn Đức Đạt), Nguyen Phuong Linh(Nguyễn Phương Linh), Nguyen Van Phuc(Nguyễn Văn Phúc), The Propeller Group, Jihye Yeom

2017 KF Special Exhibition commemorating the 25th anniversary
of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Vietnam

Salt of the Jungle

Commemorating the 25th anniversary of Korea-Vietnam diplomatic relations, this exhibition focuses on the perspectives of young artists, tracing the rapid changes that these two societies underwent in the past 30 years. The majority of Vietnamese artists here represent the “post-Doi Moi (Đổi Mới’)” generation who grew up after the 1986 economic reform. The Korean artists of a similar generation, who had experienced or witnessed the liberalization of overseas travel, the Asian and Olympic Games, and democratic movements, are also often regarded as a unique group shaped by these new social developments.

The title, “Salt of the Jungle” is borrowed from the novel by the Vietnamese writer Nguyen Huy Thiep(Nguyễn Huy Thiệp). It refers to a flower as white as salt, which blossoms in the jungle only once in 30 years. It is said to bring peace and prosperity to those that encounter it. In the novel, an elderly man who had been hunting a male monkey is shocked to see a distressed female monkey chase after her injured mate. The man, naked as a beast in the humid jungle, curses as he finally gives up. It is in this very moment that he sees the flower. While it is not clear whether this symbolizes a painful revelation for humans — a halt in the course of ruthless destruction of nature and lives — or conversely, a recognition of the beastly human nature which continues to mistake destruction for signs of prosperity, it is the story’s ability to confront this ambivalence that won its acclaim as the most poignant metaphor of the post-Doi Moi reality in Vietnam.

The notion of confronting this ambivalence also echoes in the works of the artists from Vietnam and Korea, in their observations of social transformation in the past 30 years. On the one hand, they lament the loss of nature, myths, traditions, ethnic minorities, memories and sentiments in the process of rapid industrialization and urbanization, but on the other hand, they are relatively content with these changes and the encounter with different cultures. While they are critically engaged with history and society, they do not present these ideas and issues in a solemn manner, instead, opting to portray the changes in everyday life in the midst of urbanization, industrialization and migration, in a lively and honest way.

These artists conduct research with vigor and persistence, but rather than laying out the results and disentangling the meaning, they strive to signify and contain it within the image. Nguyen Phuong Linh captures the reality of rubber plantations in South-Central Vietnam on video, and makes drawings with soil. The rubber industry in Vietnam, which emerged in the early 20th century, is suggestive of not only the economic revival, but the country’s complex modern history. The artist transforms this into a poetic image. BoMin Kim takes interest in “images that convey stories”, exploring and excavating maps, myths and traces of change in the city. However, in her work, Kim chooses to portray these stories in calm and tranquil ink-wash paintings. Undertaking an obsessive inquiry into the artificial windmill palm leaves a.k.a. “Dosiru”, Hyejin Jo discovers complex layers of culture, history and capital in an everyday object, and unravels it in a chain of “sculptural forms.”

Meanwhile, there are artists whose works involve amplifying simple scenes through the power of video. The Propeller Group extends tire tracks of motorbikes — a popular mode of transport in Vietnam — into a medium of expression, and Jihye Yeom, through the use of montage, escalates the sense of fear of invisible beings to the state of excess. Lin+Lam juxtaposes postcards sent by a migrant individual, each from different locations, with Vietnamese songs and images of calm water, creating a rhythm of anticipation and imminence. Lastly, through compiling videos collected from the Internet, Young Zoo IM takes basic elements such as water and fire, sublimating them into a strange, spiritual image.

Works by young painters are vibrant and light-hearted, yet their concern with “what defines painting” is far more serious. Eunsae Lee expresses her unique and honest concerns in the form of painterly tensions found in mundane, everyday life, while Do Thanh Lang and Nguyen Duc Dat reveal their versatile, but complex identities on screen without having to directly depict reality. Alternatively, Nguyen Van Phuc’s work strives to depict reality diligently, all the while introducing minute elements of satire. These painters do not obsess over the burden of society, instead they continue to experiment with ways that propel the power of painting in new directions.

Art Labor Collective brings the hammock cafe, common in Vietnam as resting stations for the numerous drivers that appeared with the economic development, into the gallery space and calls it “Jarai Dew.” Echoing the myth of the Jarai people who believe that all beings ultimately become “dew” after passing through cycles of rebirth, they inscribe the presence of floating souls. Each time the Collective exhibits in a new city, they have been collaborating with local artists and curators. In this exhibition, they invite Korean video artists into their work. mixrice in particular, with their experience of engaging in and elucidating issues of migration, captures the dancing hands of migrant women on video, as well as producing music out of the repetitive movements of factory workers, and presenting their new drawing that depicts the dance/labor of “tying the herring.”

Individual Vietnamese artists had been introduced to Korea previously, however, these exhibitions rarely gave an opportunity to present their work in a spectrum, and seldom focused on the connections with Korean artists. It is in this context that the current exhibition endeavors to facilitate further dialogue on the complex, entangled histories of Korea and Vietnam.



Exhibition related program

※Further details about the exhibition's special events will be announced individually.

Exhibition related program


17 August(Thu) - 18 October(Wed), 2017
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays


Mon- Fri 11:00-20:00 │ Sat 11:00-17:00




KF Gallery
2nd fl., Mirae Asset CENTER 1 Building West Tower 26 Eulji-ro 5-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul

LOCATION:2호선 을지로입구역 3, 4번 출구(도보 5분), 을지로3가역 1번 출구(도보 15분) 1호선 종각역 4, 5번 출구(도보 15분)

트위터 페이스북