East Contemporary

Art Space Pool: Yuri An “The Unharvested Sea”

July 9 – August 9, 2015, 91-5, Segeomjeong-ro 9-gil, Jogno-gu, Seoul, http://altpool.org

The walls of Pool Space are of rough concrete and you can see the wooden beams holding the roofs and walls. It’s minimal, yet very neat at the same time. A quite space away from most traffic.

IMG_20150710_132925Yuri An’s exhibition is first and foremost poetry. Whether in the form of a video, a photo slideshow or actual words on paper, feelings and emotions are very much what holds the work together. Feelings of searching, longing and contemplation of one’s existence.

The show consisted of a video projection (approx. 6 minutes, just right in length) combining Korean seaside/countryside views and a melancholic voice-over talking about words and waves. Then there was a photo slideshow of small images which looked like re-photographed from some printed publication, with skewed colors and grain visible. Mostly seascapes, sometimes with a lonely person in it. Another room was filled with paper hanging from the ceiling, filled with words I could not understand. But the video and slideshow provided enough information for me to imagine what those words sounded like and what emotions they were expressing.

In a shelf next to the entrance, there were a few thin books published by Yuri An. Some had English text inside, and when I read it, I realized that most of the emotions may come from a feeling of displacement during her studies in the Netherlands. S/he missed his/her Korean hometown/village by the sea. S/he missed his/her mother tongue. Maybe this is a too straightforward cause and effect description. When I read the passage about King Sejong who invented the Korean alphabet, something I have heard countless times in Korea, I started to ask myself to which extent the work is an idealization of one’s own culture. Some romantic longing for some mythical homeland/dreamland which never existed. I somehow think that being aware of these motivations is important. But that doesn’t take away the charm of the work, it’s like a three-dimensional multi-media poetry book one can walk into and discover something of the artist’s innermost mind movements. Gentle and fragile.

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