Walsh Gallery

Kommanivanh / Joon / Meerdo / Hosup: Inked


Dates: Jul 16 2004 - Aug 28 2004

Opening Reception: Jul 16 2004

INKED, An exploration of tattooing through the unconventional use of ink and other mediums : tattoo, video, installation

INKED is a multi-media show exploring the art making process of tattooing. The exhibit includes flashes, temporary tattoos, photography, sculpture, installation, as well as new media. INKED features artists Von Kommanivanh, Kim Joon, and Christopher Meerdo. In the project room, there will be work by Hwang Hosup. The opening reception will be Friday, July 16 from 5 to 9pm. All artists in the main exhibit room will be present.

Director Julie Walsh says, "In INKED, I explore many of the curatorial conventions used by art museums. I want to mimic some of these unspoken rules while displaying more unconventional art practices. The gallery will have gray walls to better show off the flashes, paintings, photography and hanging sculptures. Also, the flashes will be displayed in golden frames. An informative background text on tattooing will help guide the art viewer on a most unconventional odyssey."

Chicago-based artist Von Kommanivanh, a former graffiti artist and tattooist, left these art making practices because he found them too perfectionistic. Mr. Kommanivanh wanted more artistic freedom and so turned to painting. His paintings inspired by the world of tattooing will be on display during INKED. Mr. Kommanivanh will be making fine art "flashes" which will be then translated in to temporary tattoos. These temporary tattoos will be available for sale on opening night. There will be a tattoo booth set up in the space for this evening. Von Kommanivanh will be present at the opening reception.

Kim Joon, previously seen in "Relative Reality: Korean New Media Art Today", returns to Walsh Gallery. In INKED, Mr. Kim debuts 2 video projections entitled "Flesh Park 2" and a series of 3D fleshy sculptures. These irregularly shaped sculptural pieces appear to be lumps of dimpled flesh that have been tattooed. In his two video works, "Flesh Park 2", skin is the subject matter. To say the work is visceral would be an understatement. Skin becomes animated, pulsating with various body tattoos. As Mr. Kim says, "I am interested in tattoo as a metaphor for hidden desire or a kind of compulsion engraved into human consciousness. I see the skin, or in some cases the monitor, as an extension of a canvas. Tattoos can reflect individual and collective reality or displaced desire." Kim Joon's work has appeared at the Total Museum (Seoul) and the National Museum of Contemporary Art (Kwachun). Mr. Kim's work has also been included in the second Asia Pacific Triennial (Brisbane) and the third Kwangju Biennial (Kwangju). Kim Joon will be coming from Korea for the opening.

In INKED, emerging Chicago-based photographer Christopher Meerdo exhibits photos of antique tattooing guns from the 1940's. Mr. Meerdo explores the form and function of the equipment utilizing alternative photographic techniques. Using his grandfather's Rolleiflex camera and expired film, he isolates the pieces from their natural environments to create painterly-like studies. Mr. Meerdo's process gives the tools a life of their own, allowing the viewer a chance to appreciate them beyond their intended use. He will also exhibit a series of photos of artist Von Kommanivanh's tattooed arm. Christopher Meerdo will be present at the opening reception.


Hwang Hosup exhibits a series of copper wire mesh heads of Guangyin (the female reincarnation of the Buddha). Inside these heads are pieces of film with images of once-famous women like Marilyn Monroe. Hwang Hosup's work is included in the collection of the National Museum of Contemporary Art (Seoul), the Whanki Museum (Seoul), and the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art (Paris).


What do Angelina Jolie, Scottie Pippen, Eminem and Peter the Great have in common with 16% of all Americans?

Body art.

The history of tattooing stretches across time and continent although the exact origin is widely debated. The arts of tattooing have been found from mummies in ancient Egypt to the King of England, Harold II. Tattoos flourished in Japan from 1500 B.C. - 593 A.C. Early on these ink markings were seen to ward away evil spirits. However, by the Kofun era criminals were given specific tattoos which were associated with the crimes they committed. In contrast, young Polynesian chiefs were given "tatuas" as part of a ritual which proved their bravery.

One theory of how tattooing spread was through the rise of the Egyptian empire. It has also been postulated that tattoos spread to Europe in the 18th century when a heavily tattooed Polynesian slave was put on public display.

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