An artist has trapped goldfish in IV bags for a museum exhibit in Korea. They were released after visitors complained about their deaths

Since late last month, 15 goldfish have been slowly dying at the Jeonnam Museum of Art in Gwangyang, South Korea, trapped in an installation by artist Yu Buk. On Tuesday, in response to accusations of animal cruelty, the animals were removed from the room, after a third of them had already died.

The sculpture, titled Fish, featured 15 bags of IV solution hanging from the ceiling of the gallery, each filled with water and a single doomed fish swimming inside. Worried visitors began to ask how the goldfish were fed, and when they learned that was not the case, they complained.

Local animal rights groups also began speaking out against the artwork, prompting the museum to save the surviving goldfish, much to the artist’s chagrin.

“The slow death of the goldfish had to be part of my work. Now that the fish are gone, it has lost its significance as a work of art,” Yu told the Korea Timetables. “Although it may be embarrassing to the general public, the artist thinks and speaks differently than members of the public.”

This is not the first time that the artist has integrated animal mortality into his work. The bulk of Yu’s practice seems to involve luring flies and other insects to their death using glowing light and adhesive applied to acrylic or glass boxes.

Boy. This NFT of an image of insects killed by the artist is for sale on OpenSea. “width=”1024″ height=”695″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/07/unnamed-1-1024×695.jpeg 1024w, https://news.artnet .com/app/news-upload/2022/07/unnamed-1-300×203.jpeg 300w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/07/unnamed-1-50×34.jpeg 50w , https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/07/unnamed-1.jpeg 1411w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”/>

Yu Buk, Boy. This NFT of an image of insects killed by the artist is for sale on OpenSea.

He incorporates swarms of dead creatures into sculptures, of which he recently created images as NFTs on OpenSea. (The works have yet to sell.) Yu has also had solo exhibitions at Korean institutions, including the Sungkok Art Museum, Seosan Cultural Center and Total Art Museum, according to Seou’s Gallery Naeil. , who exhibited his work in 2020.

“My work consists of the death of insects,” the artist wrote on OpenSea. “In a way, I’m a bug hunter. When applying lure liquid on the surface of photos or wall and lighting at night. Winged insects gather around and stick together to make a picture.

Yu Buk, <em>Fish</em> featured in "Mourning: following a loss, a curatorial essay" at the Jeonnam Museum of Art in Gwangyang, South Jeolla Province.  Goldfish were pulled from the job due to public outcry and allegations of animal cruelty.  Photo courtesy of Jeonnam Museum of Art.” width=”737″ height=”986″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/07/optimize.jpeg 737w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/07/optimize-224×300.jpeg 224w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/07/optimize -37×50.jpeg 37w” sizes=”(max-width: 737px) 100vw, 737px”/></p>
<p id=Yu Buk, Fish on view in “Mourning: In the Wake of Loss, A Curatorial Essay” at the Jeonnam Museum of Art in Gwangyang, South Jeolla Province. Goldfish were pulled from the job due to public outcry and allegations of animal cruelty. Photo courtesy of Jeonnam Museum of Art.

At the Jeonnam Museum of Art, Yu’s installation Fish is one of 54 pieces presented in the collective exhibition “Mourning: In the Wake of Loss, A Curatorial Essay”. It was meant, according to the artist, to serve as a commentary on the inherent violence of nature and the urge of humans to manipulate and harm nature to serve their own aesthetic desires, despite ostensibly valuing natural beauty.

According to the museum, the exhibition is a response to the collective trauma of COVID-19 and other experiences of loss, exploring various means of grieving, as well as how artists transform these difficult experiences into art. It features a mix of Korean artists such as Kimsooja, as well as well-known names from the West including Gerhard Richter, Nan Goldin, Bill Viola, Anselm Kiefer, and Yinka Shonibare.

At press time, the museum had not responded to requests from Artnet News.

Earlier this month, the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Germany removed from view a work by Damien Hirst, designed to hatch and then kill flies, because it violated the country’s animal protection law.

“Mourning: In the Wake of Loss, A Curatorial Essay” is on view at Jeonnam Museum of Art, 60, Sungwang-ro, Gwangyang-eup, Gwangyang-si, Jeollanam-do, South Korea, through September 12, 2022.

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James C. Tibbs