The writer Susan Orlean has written that the most extraordinary occurrences are often found in the ordinary texture or life. Do you agree? How does the ordinary labour of working people inspire your practice?
A series of portrait video works from 2008 to 2015 focuses on the artistic dispositions found in everyday professionals, craftsmen, or workers that I encountered. Through their lives, they showed me the answers to the difficult questions I had between everyday life and art, past and present, ideal and reality, and nature and civilisation. I often found these moments of epiphany through long waiting and observation, but as Susan Orlean writes, they were captured in the ordinary life. Rather than focusing on revealing the expertise of the protagonists, this work pays attention to the universal insight they have gained through their labor, with interests in drawing the rhythm of their lives and unique worlds.
In the Seventh Night, a notable Korean folktale, Jiknyeo – a daughter of a heavenly king had a daughter – and Gyeonwu – a young herder – that fell in love could cross the Milky Way in between and not meet each other. They were allowed to meet only once a year, which falls on July 7 because the king was furious over their relationship. Then, crows and magpies worked together to form a bridge across the Milky Way for the couple, and their once-a-year encounter could take place.
The ‘Double Concerto’ (1977) by composer Isang Yun (1917-1995) is a song where the above folktale was used as an analogy for the inter-Korean relationship. The national division into North and South Koreas after the Korean War in 1945 is still valid now in 2020 well after 1977 when the song was composed, which visualizes the two’s as unfathomable and vague relationship as the distance of the Milky Way, and the psychological and physical boundaries of people within.
Countless crows and magpies connecting the couple through the Milky Way are reminiscent of the gestures of hostility and hospitality tried out between the two Koreas, and experiences of success and failure in cultural, political, social and personal exchanges. Just like the endless flapping crisscrossing the senses of despair and expectations that are still ongoing.
Eclipse Ⅰ, Ⅱ is a two-channel video documenting of two music composed for the North Korean gayageum (a Korean traditional zither with 12 strings) and the harp. I would like to pose questions on our senses introduced by the experiences of the division and boundaries in this piece of work that starts off with the life and music of Isang Yun.
Around the two instruments both making sounds with strings are two camera men working in two different trajectories to reflect the players. The two men’s movement of reflecting or shooting the players creates an illusion like a shadow play or choreography through the external light being projected. The video moves the coordinates by creating horizontal and vertical movements.
The two clips with a different speed in Eclipse Ⅱ bypass and meet each other again and again by drawing two different trajectories. The endlessly sliding images create mirror-like images and end up being synchronized shortly. The horizontal and vertical movements repeatedly happening in the frame reveal the changes in views of either hiding or exposing the objects, and grasp an instantaneous and momentary consensus.