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Young-jun Tak

Venue: KW Institute for Contemporary Art

Young-jun Tak

Born 1989 in Seoul, KR – lives and works in Berlin, DE

As one of the most ancient responses to fear, religion is again being ideologically instrumentalized to feed the populist demand for scapegoating and expedite political polarization. Young-jun Tak analyses the moral mechanizations of societies that are currently echoing each other throughout the world by targeting LGBTQI communities. In the artist’s home country of South Korea, Christian leaders and mega churches have risen to dominance in the fields of politics, economics, and journalism, despite the fact that the majority of the population is non-religious. Driven by a belief in “the blessed country” these religious groups direct their patriotic energy towards promoting anti-LGBTQI and anti-migration sentiment and decrying the country’s rapidly shrinking population. In a newly commissioned work developed shortly before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Young-jun Tak draws on the way South Korean Christian fanatics try to block the annual Pride parades by throwing themselves on the ground and forming a human chain by interlocking arms.

Chained (2020) consists of ten life-sized statues of the crucifixion, fabricated in Italy, which are installed in a circle on the ground, their arms overlapping. A closer look reveals that the surfaces of the figures are collaged with anti-LGBTQI propaganda flyers promoting conversion therapies and courses, ephemera collected by Tak from churches and medical institutions in South Korea. Most of this material can also be found in the Korea Queer Archive.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the country experienced two contagion cycles: one from the pseudo-Christian group known as the Shincheonji Church of Jesus; the other from gay clubs in Seoul. The religious group suddenly found themselves on the receiving end of the sort of hate speech that they themselves had used for years against the LGBTQI community blamed for the spread of HIV. During the second cycle, these attacks were again directed at the LGBTQI community.

Övül Ö. Durmusoglu

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