Skipping Hierarchy. installation view, 2019, dimension variable, mixed media: Taekwondo rank belt, cotton twined wheel ect., photo by Andy King
Skipping Hierarchy. detail, 2019, dimension variable, mixed media: Taekwondo rank belt, cotton twined wheel ect., technical support by Chen Hsiang Fu and Constantin Engelman, photo by Andy King
Rooted in the principles of Confucianism, Korean people have always placed high value on order and clearly differentiated levels of authority. Taekwondo belts are ranked using various colors, common in many oriental martial arts. This system is an example of modern day hierarchy based on productivity and efficiency.
Laziness in Korean culture is a taboo, and a lot of emphasis is placed on hard work. This Korean traditional value merged with capitalism, resulting in subjects becoming ever more efficient at commanding and exploiting themselves. Even in martial arts, there is a tendency to emphasise the process of self-motivated training rather than winning in a physical competition. Therefore, the visually hierarchized belts work as an effective tool to stimulate the subjects’ need for achievement.
When the skipping rope is in use, the rank belts begin to turn and the boundaries of the separated colors become blurry. Multiple participants are required—one to turn the wheel, so that the others can skip over it. The strictness and unyieldingness of the hierarchical system is replaced by amusement. This act of playful rebellion temporarily overshadows the pervasive nature of self-exploitation.
2020 FALLING UPWARDS. 2OG Alte Münze, Berlin, Germany
production by ‘Lagoon Parliament’, photo by Andy King