"Your Bright Future: Twelve Contemporary Artists from Korea" This is a masterfully curated show now running at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Politics and culture are strong themes in the show, and Korea's history in the 20th century was pretty dire. The country was brutally occupied by the Japanese for 40 years. They turned Korean women into "comfort women," sex slaves for the Japanese army, along with trying to systematically destroy Korean culture. Korea emerged from the war divided and impoverished, then suffered through the Korean War and two military coups. It first had civilian rule in 1992. A rich sense of irony and a dark sense of humor are coping mechanisms sometimes developed by people who live under oppressive or chaotic political circumstances. Those traits are out in force in "Your Bright Future." The title itself sounds like a cruel piece of propaganda, and it's taken from the title of a 2002/2006 work by Bahc Yiso. Walk into Bahc's installation, and the light is blinding. Makeshift wooden stands present a bank of reflector lamps burning what appear to be mercury vapor bulbs, i.e., streetlight lamps. Aimed at the opposite wall, they cast a brilliant but unkind light. There is a strange, nostril-dilating smell to the bulbs, and their brilliance is headache-inducing. When you are walking in front of them to stand in their blinding glare, Your Bright Future is an intensely uncomfortable experience. "Your future" feels like a Gitmo interrogation room. Another standout is Do Ho Suh's epic work Fallen Star 1/5 (2008-9). For the approximately 11-foot-high-by-25-foot-long sculpture, the artist obsessively re-created, at one-fifth scale, the Providence, Rhode Island, apartment building he lived in as a student. The dollhouse-like structure is cut in half and split open so you can see all the little rooms of the various tenants. It is amazing. There are dozens more great works in the show. Go see it. Through February 14. 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7300. — KK

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