C-U-T Asks What It Means To Be a Swedish K-pop Band.
By Thea Ballard in Frieze Magazine.
The group of art students – assembled by Ming Wong – negotiates the boundary between engagement and appropriation. For this year’s Seoul Mediacity Biennale, Singaporean artist Ming Wong has assembled a group of Swedish art students from the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, serving as the manager for their K-pop-inspired boy band, C-U-T. In a pointed departure from art bands of yore, C-U-T seeks to perform the kind of aesthetic worldbuilding that cultivates, if not exactly the international appeal of K-pop, then something joyous that opens out to a plurality of audiences.
K-pop describes a hyper-produced and hyper-polished sound from Korea informed by a global range of genres (bubblegum pop, rap, EDM), as well as a style of synchronized group performance designed to be imitable by its fans. It also refers to a powerful and rigid star-making system, in which management companies invest in future idols by assembling groups and overseeing their training. Massively popular acts like BTS and Blackpink have, in part by releasing English-language singles, ushered in K-pop’s global reign, with hit videos streamed billions of times. …