The starting point of curating this exhibition was to reconsider the geopolitical and cultural specificities of the national pavilion system at the Venice Biennale. Since Belgium had its own exclusive exhibition space at the 7th Venice Biennale in 1907, the national pavilion system has attracted many countries with its strong point of autonomy from the main exhibition. Powered by nationalistic pursuits after cultural supremacy of the national pavilion award, the number of participating nations has been steadily increased to the extent that more than 70 countries are supposed to present their own national exhibitions at the 2007 Venice Biennale.
This realistic overview suggests that national exhibitions are essentially different from the main exhibition of the Venice Biennale, which aims at a conflux of the newest artistic experiments developed in various areas. It is noteworthy that the US and other Western countries have historically shown their own star-players' solo exhibitions to reinforce their national images and cultural identities.
Another challenge at the Venice Biennale is looking for the survival guide in the vast sea of visual information. The Venice Biennale is such a world-famous elephantine art show - covering the national pavilions around Giardini di Castello and the main exhibition at the Italian Pavilion and Arsenale as well as other associated exhibitions beyond the Venice Biennale - as it almost exceed the limit of human capacity to receive information through numerous artworks at once. Not to be neglected among the deluge of images, it is the key point to offer the audience an impressive visual and intellectual experience with proper choice and concentration.
Under the knotty condition of carrying out a national exhibition and with the limited space of about 200 square meters, the 2007 Korean Pavilion proposes a solo show for the first time. Avoiding the safe and easy way to choose an established artist as a national representative, Korean Pavilion bets upon an emerging and promising artist who has the potential to grow more in the international art scene from now on, who can connect his or her own experiences to contemporary cultural discourse in general as well as local cultural specificity.
Hyungkoo Lee, the selected artist of the Korean Pavilion, started his career with making self-transforming devices to overcome his 'undersize complex' as an Asian man while studying in the US. Exploring optical possibilities of body contortion according to traditional physiognomy as well as contemporary standard of beauty, he extends his concern to exaggerated bodies of imaginary cartoon characters to invent their fossil bones in a pseudo-medical and quasi-archaeological way. His works not only propose an original model of the post-human society, which is one of major issue in contemporary cultural discourse, but also powerfully supposes mutual reversibility between the real and the simulacra.
Acknowledging cultural complex of South Korea as an economic center and cultural periphery at once, Hyungkoo Lee challenges the very psychological entanglement through smart manipulation of the reality compelling global standards with a wonderful performance between acceptance and rejection, identification and differentiation. Zanily but keenly, he appropriates art as subversive means to deconstruct the actual reality and reconstruct other possible realities.