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.