Globalizing Korean queers?: Project L(esbian), the first exhibition of lesbian arts in South Korea
Abstract This paper deals with the influence of queer and visual culture in South Korea by concentrating on the example of Project L, the first exhibition organized by self-proclaimed lesbian artists and curators in South Korea in 2005, followed by the group’s second exhibition, Gender Spectrum, in 2008. Conflicts between the dominant curatorial approach toward feminist arts and the identity politics of the Project L team are investigated in order to illustrate major theoretical predicaments in which lesbian activists and artists find themselves in feminist organizations and art exhibitions in Korea. As the title “Globalizing Korean Queer” suggests, this paper also examines contradictory circumstances related to the influence of queer theory in non-western countries. A close analysis of Gender Spectrum sheds light upon how a non-western lesbian group utilizes queer theory to understand the distinctive cultural conditions underlying homophobia, beyond merely importing “advanced” theories from the west.
Keywords: Lesbian, gays and lesbians in Asia, Feminist theory and lesbian, Queer theory and art, Contemporary art and sexual identities, Contemporary arts in Korea, Korean feminist art
Dong-Yeon Koh [고동연] is currently a lecturer at Korea National University of Arts in Seoul. Professor Koh’s dissertation was published as Larry Rivers and Frank O’Hara: Reframing Male Sexualities in Art and Culture of the 1950s in 2010. Her work on art history and Asian cultural studies now focuses on the globalization of queer theories and contemporary art theories. She is currently working on theEast Asian Pop Arts from the early 1990s and onwards, utilizing the theories of nostalgia and national identity.