In a bold move last year, luxury watch manufacturer Breguet joined forces with Frieze contemporary art fair, presenting a series of curated presentations for watch and art lovers to admire at all Frieze international art events around the globe. This year, we got on a flight and flew to Seoul to attend the highly anticipated Frieze Seoul ourselves. Under the guidance of art curator Somi Sim, here’s a small stroll through ‘Streaming Time,’ Breguet’s special exhibition at Frieze Seoul this September.
Curator Somi Sim will oversee all four distinct curated displays in the Breguet lounges across Frieze art fairs over the year. An independent art curator that is based between Seoul and Paris, Sim engages themes of history and urbanism in her curatorial practices covering design and contemporary art. After visiting the Breguet manufacture and museum in Switzerland, her latest exhibitions for Breguet at Frieze are centred around the perception of time. Sim notes, “my curatorial approach to collaborating with Breguet considers both their importance in the invention of development of horology to create dialogue between the art and the broader understandings or horology shaped by history.”
Sim’s first chapter at Frieze New York was titled ‘Orbital Time,’ while at Frieze Seoul this year, it is titled ‘Streaming Time.’ Read on for a deeper exploration of the key pieces.
Exploring ‘Streaming Time’ with art curator Somi Sim and Breguet at Frieze Seoul 2023
After meandering around the exhibitions of some of the world’s most notable galleries, we sift our way through Seoul’s fashionable art crowd to explore the Breguet lounge and meet Somi Sim. The art curator speaks humbly and passionately about the Korean artists she has selected to interpret ‘Streaming Time,’ and we are quickly pulled into the conversation.
With a glass of champagne in hand, it is a special experience, and the layers of meaning and meta aren’t lost on us. As we wander, surrounded by some of Breguet’s most stunning timepieces, chat with the team that has flown in from Switzerland, and even take part in the Guillochage demonstration, it is wonderful to think about all the different symbols of time around us. The art pieces take this even further.
Heemin Chung: The artist that takes his time
One of Somi Sim’s aims for the Breguet exhibition at Frieze Seoul was to contrast recent media with traditional media, merging a beautiful connection between the art work and the displays of Breguet’s more recent novelties and historical timepieces.
Within the lounge, Heemin Chung’s paintings greet the eye first, displaying a more traditional form of art. Through the unconventional use of gel medium, the artist utilises layers upon layers to create an illusion of floral petals. Together, her series of paintings show the passing of time in the life of a flower, as it evolves and changes through the seasons. As Sim tells us, “flowers are active and reactive receivers of streaming time.”
The passing of time is also reflected in the way the art pieces are constructed. The gel medium takes months to dry, and Chung only works on one layer at a time. It is not without reason that the pieces of this popular new Korean artist are so hot in demand, especially as they can take months to commission. It is proof that carefully constructed pieces — be they art or time pieces — remain one of the world’s most revered treasures.
Sungseok Ahn: The photographer who went to the army
After being welcomed by the sight of Heemin Chung’s delicate flowers, our art tour gets a shake-up through the alarming sound of bullets towards the back of the exhibit. Experimenting with notions of modern ‘streaming’ (phone-scrolling, gaming, even K-drama-bingeing), this is how we are introduced to the work of Sungseok Ahn.
The military work of Ahn explores a more modern art medium with video, digital photography, and sound. It is inspired by the artist’s own experience with the army service, as this is mandatory for all Koreans. Ahn joined the army as a young man, where he worked as a professional photographer, “shooting” with a camera instead of a gun — a message he conveys in his video, too. Again, the notion of time takes on various layers, through themes of competition, catastrophe, and ultimately, solidarity. The clip ends with soldiers lying on the ground with their eyes closed, and sombre thoughts start to invade the mind. Then, Sim asks us to listen carefully: do the bullets not resemble the sound of an alarm?
The art curator wakes us up to the world of possibility, a fantastic opening of the mind that is not uncommon at the world’s greatest art fairs. As we finish our flute of champagne, we marvel at the complexity with which each of the artists have interpreted ‘Streaming Time,’ and the beauty with which we surround ourselves, most fittingly, together with one of the world’s most storied timekeepers.
About Breguet x Frieze
Breguet commenced its partnership with Frieze global art fair in 2022, further reinforcing its long-standing connection to the arts. The exciting collaboration has seen artists presented at Frieze’s five international art fairs: Frieze London, Frieze Masters, Frieze New York, Frieze Los Angeles, and Frieze Seoul. The partnership is expected to run through 2024.
Find out more at Breguet.