In contemporary South Korea, people enjoy nationalistic self-indulgent fantasies due to the Korean Cultural Wave, especially K-pop and Korean drama series and films. The decline of industrial capitalism seems to be overwritten by the cultural industry’s growth based on an existing system that dehumanizes the labor conditions and justifies its dependence on the exploitation of workers. Subcontracting remains a key feature, and competition between colleagues and bullying are embedded in the work culture, representative of a top-down hierarchical structure, often in the form of commands that prevent any form of communication of concerns and/or discomfort.
In March 2020 alone, 120,000 women lost their jobs during the COVID pandemic. 18 young people committed suicide due to workplace harassment in 2021 and the birth rate marked a low record of 0.8. The combination of these figures and the recent developments have raised questions: Which factors contribute to Korean society’s silence about the unemployment of young women? Who takes the responsibility to stop this silent massacre? How can Korean society blindly believe that development based on technology will continue?
This research project argues that bullying culture is an extreme form of negative solidarity in a highly competitive society. According to Alex Willams, negative solidarity is a psyche-cultural phenomenon that amounts to believe that others should suffer as we do in austere working conditions. This concept echoes strongly the contemporary Korean mindset in neoliberal conditions and the dynamics between the Korean sense of belonging and work culture forces one to conform to a tacit rule in order not to be excluded.
This artistic research attempts to elucidate prevalent negative solidarity in the structural problems that separate us and alienate us as individuals. Hwang’s artistic method of science fiction writing interweaves the various collected materials with contemporary critical theories into a moving image. Video montage experimentation aims to be a speculative space for visualizing inaudible and marginal beings and non-beings. Will this artistic practice elicit a collective attention and awareness to the ongoing violence of modernity and its social alienation by technology? One of the key arguments is that the violence of technology is not in the application, but rather in the constitution of technology itself. What is the role of technology and cyberculture in Korean social structures and in the potential formation of a new collective subjectivity? How do we reorient disoriented souls?
Jooyoung Hwang (1984, South Korea) makes videos, installations, fiction writing, and performative lectures. Her works often emerge from her engagement with historical and philosophical texts. She probes into how images and terms are produced, circulate, and disappear within contexts of globalism and techno-capitalism.
She graduated from Critical Curatorial Cybernetic Research Practices in the Visual Arts Department at the Geneva University of Art and design, Switzerland, after having obtained BA in visual arts at the same institution.
Hwang's recent works/interests deal with labor politics and resistance movements that take place in the physical and mental space in techno-capitalist South Korea. She investigates the social and historical context of neologisms in social media and everyday life and how their relationship affects minds and feelings.
Hwang showed her works on KV-Leipzig (Leipzig,2020), Lumpenstation (Bern, 2020), LIveInYourHead (Switzerland,2018/2019), the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève (Geneva, 2018), Onegeeinfog (Geneva,2018), Théâtre de Usine (Geneva, 2018), Tastehouse (Seoul,2020), Archive Bomm (Seoul, 2018).