Bacchus Economics

The solo exhibition ‘Bacchus Economics’ (ggooll gallery, Seoul 2013) is my homage to young female factory workers who laboured in the Guro Industrial Complex in 1960s and 70s’ Korea. The name of the exhibition follows the brand of a refreshing drink ‘Bacchus’ that contains substances preventing sleep. As a quick remedy for physical exhaustion, Bacchus is still much favoured in many working environments where intensive labour is required. Bacchus not only identifies hard working blue collar culture but also reflects the economic system that continuously exploits manual labourers. ‘The Factory Girl’ was the iconic work for the exhibition. It is a female dress in 1970s style, made of the fabric patterned with Bacchus bottles. Staged solemnly under the mirror ball, it narrates young female workers’ dreams and resilience that helped them survive from abusive working conditions.

Along with the installation, a cocktail ‘Extra Hours’ was served as a performance piece. This cocktail is the mixture of Bacchus, workers’ energy drink, and Chivas Regal, the former dictator President Park’s favourite imported whisky, whose economic policy heavily focused on export. The cocktail was served to the audience in an exchange with their most memorable work experiences. Many attested unimaginably horrific experiences that linked to the profit-driven neo-liberal system.

* The Factory Girl was re-exhibited in the group show ‘Hapticity: A Theory of Touch and Identity’ co-curated by Marcelle Joseph and Enam Gbewonyo at Lychee One gallery, London, 2021.