< How To Breathe Through This Nose >
1. Untitled (praying bench), 2017
Walnut, masonite sheets, gears, steel rods, aluminum block, velvet, varnish, vinyl coated polyester, cotton rope, and a perforated golf ball
33.5 x 72 x 72”
2. Landscapes, June 22nd 1965, 2016
Hand and digital embroidery on muslin
6.5 x 11”, 14.5 x 8”, 6.5 x 5.5”, 9 x 8.5”, 14.5 x 8.5”
Transformation of five found newspaper articles from June 22nd, 1965 recording different protest sites throughout South Korea concerning the treaty between Korea and Japan, which directs issues including comfort women and the ownership of Dokdo Island. Words removed as they are no longer readable in today’s Korean knowledge.
3. Safety First, 2017
MDF, wall paint, spray paint, varnish, cement, graphite, and door hinges
71.3 x 382.8 x 11”
Road blocking fences with prescribed words in Korean meaning, “Safety First” are recreated into a folding screen encompassing its function as a backdrop, defense, and a decoration.
Years of preparation that began from the reoccurring question, “how do you breathe through that nose?” eventually brought me to the cosmetic surgery operation table. My tiny nose, which I was able to breathe through perfectly fine, was newly shaped and the silicone that was implanted on the top of my nose rather made it harder to breathe through. This absurd incident of changing my body only to be affiliated with western culture reminded me that I am inevitably an Asian. Furthermore, the day-to-day forfeit of the change such as bumping into mirrors for miscalculating the size of my nose, having aches around the bridge of it, and lying about its authenticity reaffirmed that I am a citizen of South Korea. Both my country and I helplessly depend on western culture, especially the United States, on all decisions, and therefore digging our own graves.
My work examines what it means to breathe through this newly obtained, stiff nose –a metaphorical symbol for self-adjustment gone wrong. I tear a part of my body off and alter it in the form of food, language, or toy to share it with the audience and/or hand over the control of it. By using the audience’s hands as a tool to manifest and conduct my body, I reenact my personal experiences as an Asian woman and employ the audience as conspirators and bystanders.
Mean, the recent THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile) deployment project in Korea has shifted my major concern from Asian identity in the United States to long-established American cultural colonialism in South Korea. I transform public objects with Korean language such as a safety fence and newspaper to expose the meaninglessness of these messages in the context of Korean history. Numerous sociopolitical decisions in Korean history were made for the South Korea-U.S. relations rather than the national security, interest, and the needs of the people. Such decisions have only caused unfavorable consequences just like the exchange of my nose has become a discomforting and shameful part of my life.