about the exhibition
New Works 03.2
Seoul, South Korea
July 10–September 14, 2003about the artist
A train ride away from Koo Jeong-a’s family home in Seoul, Korea, an eight-hundred-year-old frog lives in the side of a mountain. Over a number of years Koo traveled four times to its mythic home, but the golden creature would not appear. Despite not having lain eyes on it, she knew it was there: Koo defended its existence to friends who came but did not see and protected its ancient status from scientific naysayers. Her constant belief was finally rewarded: on a fifth trip the wrinkled being emerged.
Koo’s ephemeral installations suggest rewards for the constant believers—for those with unwavering confidence in the existence of alternate realities. She breathes life into the usually inert, creating miniature worlds through ordered scatterings of such everyday material as aspirin, sugar cubes, cigarettes, and light.
In A Reality Upgrade & End Alone (2003), Koo’s piece for the 50th Venice Biennale, she carved out a space for subtlety in the midst of insistent politics. The artist brought the upper regions of two walls alive by embedding prismatic buttons into their cracks and crevices. These constellations sparkled with hope and made visible the state of in-betweenness: the realms that could be—and for Koo are—layered all around us.
about the project
Upon arriving at ArtPace for her residency Koo Jeong-a set to work—but rather than giving shape to a physical object, much of her time was spent creating the conditions necessary to make a piece. For her the process has been similar to sowing the seeds of an unknown flower: she tills and waters and then hopes for the best. Here the substitute for water has been isolation. Koo’s first move was to close off her studio space (now the exhibition space) from all visitors. She locked one entrance, and just inside the other built a wall breached only by a Koo-sized mouse hole. After creating this safe haven in which to think, she set out to get to know Texas. Her travels took her West—to places surrounded by an aura of otherworldliness: ghost towns and the “mysterious” lights of Marfa. One the stuff of tall tales, the other a scientific anomaly.
According to Koo the installation that has emerged out of her residency reflects her time here; not only what she has discovered, but also the support ArtPace has given her to discover it. Here she has had much-needed space to breathe—to review the past and look toward the future, and in her work both are represented.
While the wall and mouse hole served a utilitarian purpose during her residency, they remain even after she has gone. The wall and hole not only become the main passageway, but also a substantial element of her installation. This move, a potent and economical gesture, conjures up Alice in Wonderland-like possibilities of other dimensions and cuts to the chase in a way the understated works from her past have not. The wall could be thought of as a bridge arcing over her residency at ArtPace—it hints at isolation, exploration, alternate realities, and the comforts of a cocoon. Koo’s wall/hole might also be thought of as a transition from what was to what could be.
other artist info
Galerie Yvon Lambert