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Young In Hong

Five Acts

Young In Hong

Five Acts

Young In Hong, 'Five Acts' (2024). Installation view at Spike Island. Photograph by Dan Weill



Five Acts is a new commission and solo exhibition by artist and Spike Island studio holder Young In Hong. The exhibition brings together tapestry, sculpture, video and performance to explore the bond between humans and animals through movement, sound and other non-linguistic forms of expression.

The centrepiece of the commission is a forty metre-long, embroidered tapestry that documents the struggles for better working conditions and fair pay of women workers in Korea during the period 1920–1980. Inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry – an 11th century embroidery depicting the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England in 1066 – Hong’s version pays homage to the women workers who fought against Japanese colonial rule and became a driving force behind South Korea’s modernisation.

Divided into eight sections and suspended from the ceiling in an elliptical frame, the tapestry depicts historical events where women were the main protagonists. This includes the gisaeng, or courtesans, who in 1919 initiated a movement for Korean independence from Japanese occupation, and the haenyeo, or female divers, who led the Jeju Haenyeo Anti-Japanese Movement between 1931 and 1932. The tapestry culminates in depictions of the many textile workers who contributed to the economic growth of South Korea during the 1970s and 1980s.

Surrounding the tapestry is a group of willow and fabric sculptures that resemble animal toys found in zoos. A series of live performances taking place during the exhibition’s run invite a group of five performers to explore improvisation through movement and sound. Taking the tapestry as a manual for the performance and score, the performers interact with the sculptures while responding to the historical events narrated in the embroidery.

Additionally, Hong presents two recent works. Ring of Animals (2023) is an installation consisting of five sets of shoes for different animals, woven from straw by artisans and placed on a circle of white sand resembling snow. Bringing together a range of species randomly selected according to the shape of their feet – including a heron, a polar bear, a gorilla, a giraffe and a kangaroo – the work creates a mystical ring of animals that would not normally share the same habitat. It is accompanied by a soundtrack that plays intermittently, which incorporates field recordings and electronic sounds that blur the boundary between animals and humans. The video The White Mask (2019) features a musical ensemble responding to the notion of ‘becoming animal’ through improvisation. The musicians perform seven compositions in which they reflect on how it would feel to undergo such a transformation.

Five Acts is part of the West of England Visual Arts Alliance programme, with additional support from the Korea Artist Prize. In-kind support provided by Bristol Taiko and Joe Dagget from Taiko Mynydd Du


2 February, 7pm
24 February, 3pm
16 March, 3pm
6 April, 3pm
27 April, 3pm (Part of Bristol New Music Festival 2024, Booking necessary)

Please note: This performance contains loud noise and drum sounds

Watch Young In Hong discuss 'Five Acts' (2024)

Young In Hong

Born in Seoul, Young In Hong lives and works in Bristol. Recent solo exhibitions include at Kunsthal Extra City, Antwerp (2023); Exeter Phoenix (2018); the Korean Cultural Centre, London (2017); and Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2015). Her performances have been presented at Seoul Museum of Art (2022); the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2019); Arnolfini, Bristol (2019); Spike Island, Bristol (2017); Block Universe, London (2017) and the 10th Gwangju Biennale (2014). In 2019, Hong was shortlisted for the Korea Artist Prize.

Partners and Supporters

Five Acts is part of the West of England Visual Arts Alliance programme, supported by Arts Council England, with additional support from the Korea Artist Prize.

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