Jane Jin Kaisen: Halmang
Exhibition
Jane Jin Kaisen, 'Halmang', 2023, film still. Courtesy of the artist.

Jane Jin Kaisen: Halmang

from
20
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01
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24
until
21
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04
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24
Curated by
Dot Zhihan Jia
Participating Artist
Jane Jin Kaisen
On from
January 20, 2024
until
April 21, 2024
Opening Hours
Tuesday to Saturday: 10am–5pm Sunday: 12–5pm
Free Entry
Downloads
Press Release

Upon seeing her you know how it was for her. You know how it might have been. You recline, you lapse, you fall, you see before you what you have seen before. Repeated, without your even knowing it. It is you standing there. It is you waiting outside in the summer day.

– Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee, 1982

Jeju Island is located fifty miles to the south of the Korean Peninsula. Its lava rock coast was formed more than a million years ago by an underwater volcanic eruption. The past is a foreign country, as the saying goes, yet the spectres of Japanese colonisation and subsequent American military occupation, state violence, and massacre cast their long shadows over Jeju Island, which finds itself once again at the crosscurrents of ongoing processes of militarisation, land dispossession, and environmental degradation.

In her debut UK solo exhibition ‘Halmang’, at esea contemporary, internationally acclaimed artist Jane Jin Kaisen unveils her visually striking, polyphonic moving-image works which stem from extensive interdisciplinary research. Presented in the historic Market Buildings — once part of the Victorian Smithfield Fish Market — the exhibition intricately connects its location with Kaisen's ancestral ties to Jeju Island, where her mother and grandmother made a living as haenyeo, the island’s women sea divers who harvest seafood from the ocean. By weaving together oceanic cosmology and landscape, the exhibition becomes a vessel for narrations, pushing against the erosion of remembrance in the course of modernisation.

Themes of memory, migration, borders, and translation have long been the cornerstones of Kaisen’s artistic practice. Through the rhythms that emanate from songs performed by minority communities and the sound of crashing waves, works in the exhibition evoke Jeju Island as both a cartographically situated place and as a movingly spiritual one, wherein politics and gendered social norms are reproduced far beyond the island's shores. The exhibition’s title ‘Halmang’ is borrowed from the eponymous central piece in the show. In Jeju, halmang refers to the island’s many shamanic goddesses as well as grandmothers, but it is also a respectful form of address for women; the exhibition is an inquiry into multiple perspectives on displacement and gendered histories. Born on Jeju Island, Kaisen was transnationally adopted to Denmark as an infant. Returning to Jeju in her adult life, Kaisen engaged with the island’s genocidal Cold War history, its natural environment and enduring spiritual culture from a multi-layered, transnational feminist lens. 

This exhibition is conceived by Xiaowen Zhu and curated by Dot Zhihan Jia, with generous support from Arts Council England, GMCA, and the Danish Arts Foundation. The public programme is in partnership with the School of Digital Art (SODA), Manchester Metropolitan University. Artist Assistant: Pauline Koffi Vandet.

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Installation view of 'Jane Jin Kaisen: Halmang' at esea contemporary, 2024, courtesy of the artist, photo by Jules Lister.
Jane Jin Kaisen, 'Halmang', 2023, video still. Courtesy of the artist.
Installation view of 'Jane Jin Kaisen: Halmang' at esea contemporary, 2024, courtesy of the artist, photo by Jules Lister.
Installation view of 'Jane Jin Kaisen: Halmang' at esea contemporary, 2024, courtesy of the artist, photo by Jules Lister.
Installation view of 'Jane Jin Kaisen: Halmang' at esea contemporary, 2024, courtesy of the artist, photo by Jules Lister.
Installation view of 'Jane Jin Kaisen: Halmang' at esea contemporary, 2024, courtesy of the artist, photo by Jules Lister.
Installation view of 'Jane Jin Kaisen: Halmang' at esea contemporary, 2024, courtesy of the artist, photo by Jules Lister.
Installation view of 'Jane Jin Kaisen: Halmang' at esea contemporary, 2024, courtesy of the artist, photo by Jules Lister.
Installation view of 'Jane Jin Kaisen: Halmang' at esea contemporary, 2024, courtesy of the artist, photo by Jules Lister.
Installation view of 'Jane Jin Kaisen: Halmang' at esea contemporary, 2024, courtesy of the artist, photo by Jules Lister.
Installation view of 'Jane Jin Kaisen: Halmang' at esea contemporary, 2024, courtesy of the artist, photo by Jules Lister.
Installation view of 'Jane Jin Kaisen: Halmang' at esea contemporary, 2024, courtesy of the artist, photo by Jules Lister.
Installation view of 'Jane Jin Kaisen: Halmang' at esea contemporary, 2024, courtesy of the artist, photo by Jules Lister.
Installation view of 'Jane Jin Kaisen: Halmang' at esea contemporary, 2024, courtesy of the artist, photo by Jules Lister.
Installation view of 'Jane Jin Kaisen: Halmang' at esea contemporary, 2024, courtesy of the artist, photo by Jules Lister.
Installation view of 'Jane Jin Kaisen: Halmang' at esea contemporary, 2024, courtesy of the artist, photo by Jules Lister.
Portrait of Jane Jin Kaisen, photo by Daniel Zox.
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