Elbow Room

Hana Yoo

In her solo show at Berlin based ACUD Gallery, Hana Yoo (Busan, South Korea, 1987) questions the complex power system of hierarchical positions through storytelling. The exhibition Elbow Room establishes itself as a provocation through two video works: What defines our identity and how is it being manipulated?

Bare Life (2021), a loosely structured narrative film, introduces “the place” through a vague description of a prison and a first hand experience of an escape story. The artist intercuts the anonymous testimony with non sequential archival footage – amateur videos of air gun demonstrations, and technical videos of testing labs using AI technology to detect pain in rats. The obscure pairing between the rat and the refugee demonstrates an ironic but critical tone which examines their possible connection nevertheless set in different reality spheres. Comparatively, Your freedom song (2022) is a satirical representation of a popular Korean youtuber following her role as a patriotic figure of South Korean political values. As an escapee of “the place”, the online star triggers a sense of tension while setting side to side the military and strategic capacities of both countries.

The show is a continuous loop of anxiety and discomfort, where both realities are complemented and differing simultaneously: a double sided representation of the present context in South Korea.

Hana Yoo - is interested in investigating the collective anxiety and transcendental experiences formulated from the natural-artificial process of reversing perspective. Working in film and multimedia installation, she engages with the allegory of nature and technological appropriation in the context of human-environment transformation and reconstructs them through storytelling. She studied Media Arts at the Berlin University of Arts and her previous awards include film/video work grants from the Berlin Senate, Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture, research grants from the Stiftung Kulturwerk, Kunstfonds Bonn, and Arts Council Korea. Her works also have been shown at museums and festivals, including the Fotomuseum Winterthur (2019), European Media Art Festival (2020), and Busan International Video Art Festival (2020), among others.

Hana Yoo’s Elbow Room is one of the winners of the Berlin Art Prize 2022. Jury Statement: ,,I kept unlooking", remarked one jury member. This artist's finely - calibrated provocations inform the jury's decision to award her the 2022 Berlin Art Prize.

Jury: Candice Breit, Anna Ehrenstein, Alya Sebti, Sinthujan Varatharajah, Amelie von Wulffen

Elbow Room | Curated by: Francisca Portugal | Exhibition photography: Sandra Gramm