I feel like he really talks about Korea a lot. And looking at his work and what’s happening in Korea right now, I feel that for once these country pavilions make sense, because Lee Wan is so clearly making us aware of the history of Korea and what’s happening there right now and how absurd it all is—these puppets we have nowadays in our politics, like Trump and Park. Of course, on the one hand, he talks internationally but, on the other hand, he also very much talks about the specific issues, which are happening in Korea right now. And yes, he brings in America in one of his works, but I feel it’s very clear looking and confronting his work that there’s this awareness of how much other countries, like Korea or Germany, were influenced by America after a period of war. So Lee Wan somehow manages to find this very difficult line between making thorough political statements and not being a boring educator. So what he does is actually quite national, but it’s done in an international context. Take his Made In work, for instance. We all go to the supermarket and realize that all these products were not made in the country in which we are living but, by Lee Wan actually going to the countries where these products were made, it becomes a lot more absurd. And I think what Lee Wan introduced to me is the idea that for Korea—but, even more so for less developed Asian countries, like Cambodia and Vietnam—Asian countries are just used as factories by first world companies, who go there to produce.
I’m also working at the moment with Lee Bul so I discovered through her, as well as Lee Wan, that Park was not just the president but also the daughter of Dictator Park. And I became aware of these varied networks between her, her former family, the shaman she was involved in, and this whole drama around her as the leader of the country. I think for international curators, like me, and international viewers, who aren’t embedded in the Korean day-to-day news, for them, Lee Wan’s Mr. K installation will be very mind-opening. I really don’t think most people know about Korean politics, and I do think it’s very urgent at the moment. Lee Wan brings this up in his work in a really subtle way. This makes me feel like this is why we have contemporary culture and art because it can act as another layer on top of what we see in the news.