Video artist, performance artist, composer and visionary: Nam June Paik (1932-2006) was one of the most innovative artists of the 20th century. Tate Liverpool, in collaboration with FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) present the first major retrospective since the artist’s death, and the first exhibition of Paik’s work in the UK since 1988.
The exhibition celebrates Paik as the inventor of media art, presenting his artistic path and highlighting his diverse talents – experimental, musical, philosophical, spiritual, political and technological. The exhibition showcases around ninety works from all phases of his career, many shown in the UK for the first time, alongside a rich selection of documentary materials from Paik’s performances and early exhibitions.
Paik’s work developed from music via Fluxus actions and performance to media works, with manipulated television images providing the foundation for his video art. This inventive use of technology became Paik’s signature style, and the exhibition showcases a number of his iconic works including seven TV Buddhas, four robot sculptures and two TV cellos. His early manipulated television works Zen for TV 1963 (1982) and Magnet TV 1965 feature, as does the mesmerising projection One Candle 1989 and his Video Synthesizer 1969 (1992).
Born in South Korea, Paik began his career as a composer in Japan and Germany. Influenced by and working alongside artists such as John Cage, Joseph Beuys and Karlheinz Stockhausen, he developed a great interest in provocative action and electronic music. A substantial part of the exhibition is devoted to the photographs, scores and concepts from this period of his work in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as two of his famous Prepared Pianos from 1962-3.
Paik’s influential collaborations are brought alive through documents, photographs and rare performance footage. His friendship with artist Joseph Beuys and his collaboration with cellist Charlotte Moorman, which was particularly significant in the context of the New York avant-garde, are explored in depth. Other collaborators and colleagues including Shuya Abe, Yoko Ono, Laurie Anderson, Mary Bauermeister, Alison Knowles, Merce Cunningham and David Bowie feature in documentary material and video works presented at Tate Liverpool and FACT.
Focusing on Paik’s creative experiments with emerging technology, FACT will present the UK premiere of major installation Laser Cone 1998 alongside a series of single-screen and video documents including Global Groove 1973 and groundbreaking satellite video Bye Bye Kipling 1986.
Nam June Paik is initiated and developed by Tate Liverpool and museum kunst palast, Düsseldorf, curated by Sook-Kyung Lee and Susanne Rennert. The exhibition in Liverpool is presented by Tate Liverpool in creative collaboration with FACT.