Guardians of Cabinets

Presented by Asia Contemporary Art Platform NON Berlin


Supported by
Senate Department for Culture and Europe Berlin


C/0 Meinblau Projektraum, Pfefferberg Haus 5, Christinenstr. 18-19, 10119 Berlin

Eröffnung: 14. August 2020, 15h-22h Laufzeit: 15. - 30. August 2020

In The Guardians of Cabinets, a solo exhibition by Jina Park, visitors are invited to immerse themselves in their personal cabinet of curiosities. Combining painting with augmented reality, the exhibition interrogates our relationship to foreign cultures.

Jina Park’s artistic process begins with collecting animals, plants, sculptures, and other objects from a wide variety of countries and epochs. Taking them from museums, zoos, and botanical gardens, which often have an imperialist history, Park appropriates these sometimes violently collected objects and creatures and recasts them as symbols of the satisfaction of individual desire. She then decontextualizes and transforms them into dreamlike, surreal paintings. The resulting collection, selected primarily according to painterly criteria, belongs to the tradition of the cabinet of curiosities, the forerunners of today’s museums.

For the first time in The Guardians of Cabinets, Park combines her paintings with site-specific augmented reality technology to create an immersive event. Visitors move through an exhibition space framed by a grid structure reminiscent of cages. The representational paintings, with their reduced color palette, exude a calm yet exciting atmosphere, in which life, the will to live, and death are united. Animals and their remains are found amid exotic plants: a seemingly petrified lizard, a skull, a screeching monkey. Among them roves a menacing jaguar, which seems to step out of the canvas and prowl through the exhibition in fear. The analogue and digital spaces, real and virtual elements intertwine and interpenetrate each other as the reading of one begins to influence the other.
The exhibition takes as its point of departure the personal experiences of the South Korean artist, who lives and works in Berlin. Depending on their perspective, viewers often look for ‘the Asian’, or later, for ‘the German’ aspects of her art and thus for a confirmation of their own biases. Her confrontation of such questions and of our reservations towards other cultures, along with the need for categorization, lends additional intensity to Parks’ handling of themes such as individuality, power relations, eurocentrism, and postcolonial gazes.

In its form as a self-critical cabinet of curiosities, this multimedia exhibition not only interrogates the ideas of collection, exhibition, and our taste for sensationalism, but also offers an intelligent and sensual experience and suggests promising possibilities for the extension of painting in the digital age.

The exhibition is curated by Isabelle Meiffert.




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