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Chan-Hyo Bae is an artist that is interested in the difference between Eastern and Western cultures and in the way this is seen at a personal level. He took his personal experiences and transformed them into art. He will be exhibited at MIA & D Fair Singapore, that will soon open.
An interview for Inhale:
I have an interest in cultural prejudice caused by the difference between the Eastern and Western culture. This idea has been extended to thinking about the social position of Asian men in the Western society. I came across many ‘culture shock’ moments and was faced with unpleasant experiences such as racial discrimination in the pretext of superiority of the Western culture. It is to be understood as the result of the dichotomy of good and bad. Self-centered values led to the biased understanding of other cultures and subsequently led to violent human history through the classification of good and bad. I see this as the fundamental problem of human nature. Social dominance has been sustained through its many rationalization tools such as violence. In the contemporary, the definition of justice is that the weak the minority are protected by the justice. But this still feels like a distant reality. In this respect, the gender issues and cultural differences are an important factor in my works.
You explore gender issues through your project Existing in Costumes. Why are you interested in that?
I grew up in the Eastern culture that prioritizes the male gender. Before having experienced the unpleasant cultural bias and the sense of superiority in the UK, I never questioned the male superiority. The cultural superiority and male supremacy are no different. It is the need for power in the social class structure and is packed with rational biased violence. Understanding of other cultures can be done only in the imagination. Gender issue is the talk of possibility of diversity for human beings without any dichotomy. They are similar in a way that truly understanding a woman’s position as a man would be difficult as much as understanding the culture of the East would be with the prejudice of the West. I am exploring my own desire to understand the gender issue in the universal context.
Also, what is interesting is the fact that you work on Western themes. Why do you want to examine this particular area?
Before coming to the UK, I had a vague admiration of the Western culture. My impression was that there would be many things to learn from the cultural excellence of the West. But I found that it was hard to find Western cultural excellence in the contemporary situation. Everything that I conceived to be of cultural excellence of the West existed in my imagination. This standard of cultural excellence could only be found in the oil paintings and historical architectures. The interest in the history of England made me to use them for visualization in variety formats. The English history is an important element for my each project. Therefore, I wanted to express what is in the imagination (i.e. Fantasy of Asian men of the West) in reality.
Why did you feel the need to create an entire setting for Existing in Costumes?
Good and bad does not exist in the Eastern philosophy. There is just good and less good. This is a significant different viewpoint in understanding the universe. I believed that the visualization of the imaginary Western culture which I could never experience could be realized through an accurate representation. I concentrated on the correct setting and accurate reproduction to show the ability of an inevitable limit through desperate and correct representation of its historical context.
What are you working on at the present moment?
I am currently exploring the theme of Witch Hunt. Witch hunt is one of the West’s non-rational human behavior in the course of its history, and we can still recognize it being repeated in many different varieties. What I want to explore is an oriental man in the fantasy of the culture of the West, and thus expressing the Eastern cultural inferiority he may feel. There are main three elements which are religion, science and human being in the witch hunt.