Imaginary Narratives

The winner of the Prix Découverte des Amis du Palais de Tokyo 2015, Hayoun Kwon (b.1981) provides audiences with access to the imaginary world of a mysterious woman, nicknamed “The Bird Lady.” Several of Kwon’s pieces on display in the exhibition at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, are linked to geopolitical questions of borders and territoriality. Both Model Village (2014) or 489 Years (2015), allude to the fictitious no man’s land that separates the two Koreas. Also on show is Lack of Evidence (2011), a short film presenting the tale of a young asylum seeker from Nigeria confronted by the French administration.

Through the interweaving of documentary with animation and new technologies, the artist creates an experience positioned between fact and fiction, reality and virtuality, which questions the complexity of the real. Much of her practice is based on seeing narrative as a construction of individual and collective memory, and she often stages the stories that she has been told, as well as the situations she has experienced or imagined. Kwon plays on the confusion between actual memories and dreams, and between faithful testimonies and fantastical interpretations.

Born in Seoul, Kwon lives and works between France and South Korea. Alongside her Palais de Tokyo accolade, the artist has also been awarded the first Prize of the 62nd International Short Film Festival (Oberhausen, 2016), the Arte Creative Newcomer Award during the European Media Art Festival (Osnabrück, 2014) and the Prix Jeune Création in 2012. Since graduating from Le Fresnoy in 2011, she is represented by the Galerie Sator, Paris.

Hayoun Kwon, The Bird Lady, until 10 September, Palais de Tokyo, Paris.


1. Hayoun Kwon, 489 Years (2015). Courtesy of the artist.