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'O' - Sanghee Song

Galleries Van Zijll Langhout / Contemporary Art

Brouwersgracht 161
1015 GG Amsterdam
+31 (0)20 7708990

Open Wed - Sat / 10-17 hrs
+ by appointment

21 Feb — 30 Apr

Time 21 Feb


Exhibition 'O' of Sanghee Song at VZL / Contemporary Art


This is the way the world ends, This is the way the world ends,
This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but with a whimper. T.S. Elliot

Van Zijll Langhout Contemporary Art is pleased to announce the opening of the exhibition 'O' by Sanghee Song. In her second solo presentation with the gallery the artist further excavates her interest into how merchant trade, past and present, informs today's world order. 

It is impossible to navigate history without addressing the sentiments of those who have been subjected to the greed and colonial desires of the ruling classes. In earlier works and projects Sanghee Song has specifically addressed the situation in Tanzania, once a hotbed for the slave and spice trade, to visualise the scars but also the resilience of a nation when its oppressors disappear. Song in her practice de-constructs these difficult histories in order to reintroduce a sense of hope and optimism in a world where nobody carries the burden alone but equally none is innocent.

Song's work denies a singular reading of historic events. She advocates a more non-judgemental approach that is built up from a wider set of parameters, that result from a more thorough and inclusive interrogation of our past. What ensue are labyrinthesque works that examine the flaws and fortunes that human interference has brought on history.  

'O' features the wall-based work 'In search of O' consisting of 28 glazed ceramic 'Delftware' tiles that illustrates this multifaceted approach. The work depicts the Mars pathfinder rover 'Sojourner' set in its extraterrestrial landscape. The rover was named after Isabella Baumfree, an Afro-American political activist that campaigned for gender and racial equalities, who changed her name to Sojourner Truth in 1843. Song comments on the mission itself as well as the intricate set of ramifications that the colonisation of space might set in motion by complementing NASA's propaganda photograph with her own poetry based on the work of Dutch evolutionary biologist Tijs Goldschmidt and by pictorially surrounding this lawless terrain with the effects of earlier colonisation endeavours.

Time heals all wounds and hindsight is a luxury but it is exactly in the crease of time that Song's work has a sense of urgency. The artist asks of her audience to be introspective as she presents the history of what has gotten us where we are today. To understand our time, we, like Song, must travel back through our ancestral past to notice that the seed of evil and confusion was planted quite some time ago. The work of Sanghee Song, does explores these histories in the past, present and future tense and can be read as a mooted call for moderation in a time of violent excess. For those that carefully explore the work by giving it the time it deserves the shows' title might well read ‘Oh’ instead of ‘O’.

Steven van Grinsven, 2015

Sanghee Song (Seoul, South Korea) was a Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunsten resident between 2006 and 2007. Her work deals with the collective state of memory, religion and history, judged and examined against a highly personalised feminine perspective.  The work aims to reconnect, dissect and (re-) contextualise past and present histories in a rich and diverse body of work. Sanghee Songs’ work has been widely and internationally exhibited.


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