Five Acts


Five Acts is a new commission and solo exhibition by Young In Hong. The exhibition brings together tapestry, sculpture, video and performance to explore the bond between humans and animals through movement, sound and other non-linguistic forms of expression.

The centrepiece of the commission is a forty metre-long, embroidered tapestry that documents the struggles for better working conditions and fair pay of women workers in Korea during the period 1920–1980. Inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry – an 11th century embroidery depicting the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England in 1066 – Hong’s version pays homage to the women workers who fought against Japanese colonial rule and became a driving force behind South Korea’s modernisation.

Divided into eight sections and suspended from the ceiling in an elliptical frame, the tapestry depicts historical events where women were the main protagonists. This includes the gisaeng, or courtesans, who in 1919 initiated a movement for Korean independence from Japanese occupation, and the haenyeo, or female divers, who led the Jeju Haenyeo Anti-Japanese Movement between 1931 and 1932. The tapestry culminates in depictions of the many textile workers who contributed to the economic growth of South Korea during the 1970s and 1980s.

Surrounding the tapestry is a group of willow and fabric sculptures that resemble animal toys found in zoos. A series of live performances taking place during the exhibition’s run invite a group of five performers to explore improvisation through movement and sound. Taking the tapestry as a manual for the performance and score, the performers interact with the sculptures while responding to the historical events narrated in the embroidery.

Five Acts has been part of the West of England Visual Arts Alliance programme, with additional support from the Korea Artist Prize.

Spike Island Webpage

Photo:Courtesy of Spike Island (Photographer: Dan Weill)