Black Jaguar

South-Korean Feminist Activist & Multidisciplinary Artist

01.10.2019   - 31.12.2019

Black Jaguar is a multidisciplinary artist, who aims to subvert patriarchal attitudes in South Korea, working with performance, fashion, photography, film, drawing, object and installation.

Her work is inspired by current feminist issues in South Korea, particularly sexual violence, including the #MeToo movement’s local impact, female stereotypes and women’s working rights.

Building on the empathetic approach of artists such as Kiki Smith and Nan Goldin, Black Jaguar applies a bold and disruptive style, her art aims to encourage radical thought on current social issues and support progressive feminist communities.

Currently, I am researching the imaginaries of popular culture that condemn or fear women that have escaped from the patriarchy, like the classic female monsters of the Korean tradition. I am working to find connections between these figures and those people who belong to the minorities of the present.

Black Jaguar, Mostri, suicidi e ipermodernità – Il femminismo in Corea del Sud in un’intervista all’artista e attivista Black Jaguar, il Tascabile magazine interview by Ilaria Benini


Black Jaguar at her SomoS studio, Berlin, November 2019 Photo: Refik Sancar

Supported by the Arts Council Korea, Black Jaguar joins SomoS as an Artist-in-Residence for a three-month stay, beginning October 2019, continuing to work on a project where she presents half-human, half-monstrous women and feminine portraits, titled Sunyoung, Miyoung, Mi young. The work’s concept is based on Korean mythology, particularly traditional representations of female mythical creatures. At first, these characters were largely portrayed positively or at least neutrally. However their contemporary appearances seem to mirror a misogynistic fear of strong women.

In Sunyoung, Miyoung, Mi young, Black Jaguar reclaims the positive image of Korean mythological creatures by resurfacing and modifying them in a contemporary context, reestablishing a sense of feminine agency. The work’s title is inspired by the three most common women’s names in Korea. Black Jaguar began the project by searching for models that are united by the fact that they all bear one of these names, learning about their personal stories and depicting them in her portraits.

Extending the ideas of Sunyoung, Miyoung, Mi young, her conceptual fashion project Haute Couture focuses on fashion, garment and the body, working with the Korean hanbok skirt.

As women started to participate more in public life in Korea since the 1960’s, the social horror of women deviating from their traditionally assigned roles was expressed through the horror film trope of dangerous female ghosts wearing a traditional white skirt.

Black Jaguar’s Haute Couture version of the dress is worn by artists and activists involved in feminist and queer movements in South Korea, and documented in photographic series and fashion films. Reclaiming the image of the female from male fantasy, Black Jaguar’s feminist impetus here reflects the solidary approach found in South Korea, in which the feminist cause is reserved not only for women, but also for all those who suffer from discrimination based on their gender or sexual orientation.

Mourning and empathy are recurring themes in Black Jaguar’s art. One example is her 2016 performance VEGA at Space Haebang, Seoul, which responded to the MV Sewol disaster in which a ferry sunk, killing many aboard and exposing government negligence and corruption. In fact, the ferry disaster was partly a catalyst of the impeachment of the then president Park Geun-hye. Researching for VEGA, Black Jaguar met three of the grieving mothers whose children were onboard the vessel, retelling their memories during a sensitive performance. During the performance, Black Jaguar harnessed the political potential of public space, placing herself on the opposite side of the street to the gallery from which viewers would watch. It was through the mediation of the street, with its passers-by, cars and sense of shared space, that Black Jaguar communicated these messages of loss via an app and amplified voice.

Black Jaguar holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Honam University in Gwanju, South Korea. She boasts a number of solo exhibitions in her native Seoul including Sunyoung, Miyoung Mi Young at Space XX in 2017, World of Others at Laser in 2017 and VEGA at Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture. Jaguar has also participated in group exhibitions throughout South Korea, most notably taking part in the 2014 group show Momsal at the Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, and the Gangwon International Biennale, with her performance piece Appellant, ARGH!, in 2018. Other significant group exhibitions include The Interlude at Insta Art Space, Seoul in 2019, the Memorial exhibition for the 5th anniversary of the Sewol ferry disaster The Sea Will Not Sink at Ansan Arts Center, in 2019, Looms & Battles, Total Museum, Seoul in 2018 and Not Allowed to Ban, Suwon Ipark Museum of Art, Suwon in 2018. She is also part of AWA (Association of Women Artists) that explores the common problem of rigid hierarchical structure of society combined with sexual violence toward women. Concerned about the position of female artists in modern society, Black Jaguar together with AWA published and spread to art-related institutions a statement that urges resolution of sexual violence issues.

At SomoS, Jaguar is working embedded in a community of international artists, taking part in house events such as the P2P Critique Sessions, atelier visits, and AIR exchange meetups, and attending SomoS’ exhibitions and events. November 16, her work was presented to a stream of visitors during the Open Studios Neukölln 2019, a large open studio event taking place all over the Berlin-Neukölln district. She is supported by SomoS’ curatorial staff throughout her stay. The artist’s work will be presented in the solo exhibition Spiegel, taking place December 17th-22nd 2019 at SomoS gallery space, that will share her insight and creative exploration of the Korean female experience to an interested Berlin audience, sparking discussion and cross-cultural dialog. Her solo show will present works on paper, Samdae (three generations), incorporating personal portraits of her mother, grandmother and herself, as well as sculpture, installation, performance, fashion and video from her Haute Couture project.

Thanks to il Tascabile magazine and Ilaria Benini, whose excellent article on Black Jaguar is quoted here in part.

Black Jaguar’s homepage

Black Jaguar’s Berlin artist residency at SomoS is supported by the Arts Council Korea.

Arts Council Korea