Ring of Animals is the first solo exhibition of South-Korean artist Young In Hong (Seoul,1972) in Belgium. It presents an integral series of new works that together activate a forgotten communal space that premodern people believed to be real. A sacred area in which the spirits of living organisms, including animals and humans, can communicate with each other through natural connections while being linked in relationships of equality. For this, Hong was inspired by the architectural setting of the exhibition space, housed in a Dominican chapel, and its proximity to Antwerp Zoo – one of the oldest zoological gardens in the world, established in 1843.
Central in the exhibition is the installation Ring of Animals (2023). Here six sets of straw-woven shoes for different species of animals are placed in a circle. Using a traditional Korean technique, Hong creates a mystical ring of animals featuring creatures that normally do not share a common habitat: giraffe, kangaroo, heron, baby elephant, gorilla and bear. Paradoxically, these light-hearted objects evoke feelings of guilt and anxiety and highlight the urgency of caring more for all living creatures, not only humans. A composition incorporating field recordings and electronic sounds is played intermittently, creating a bewitching atmosphere and demarcating a boundary between the human and animal.
With this exhibition, which also shows works in the corridors leading to the chapel, Hong re-establishes the chapel as an accommodating space for protection, but also for reflection on the ineffable and inseparable bond between man and animal.
Curator: Zuzanna Rachowska
Artwork production sponsored by Korea Artist Prize Promotion Fund, from SBS Foundation and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea
Special thanks to: Spike Island
Artists: Young In Hong