11th Gwangju Biennale
2. 9. – 6. 11. 2016



Sojung Jun

In The Habit of Art, a seven-channel video by Sojung Jun (b. 1982, Busan/Seoul), we are shown a repetitive loop of actions that does not seem to have much meaning. A hand carefully piles up matchsticks into a tower, only to have it topple over its own weight when it is near completion. Another pair of hands repeatedly dives into a basin of water in which the reflection of the moon is seen: all of us who have seen any reflection on water will know that to scoop anything from the mirage is an effort in vain. Indeed, these short videos are apt representations of the habit of art, of what art does. Art often attempts the impossible – driven by a certain sense of belief, often with unusual determination and many trials and errors – sometimes it fails, and then sometimes it succeeds.

Jun’s practice revolves around extraordinary stories from daily life, which often become metaphors for art. For example Treasure Island (2014) features three haenyeo, or Korean female divers, approaching the sea singing their work songs. These divers risk their lives to make a living looking for various forms of seafood and other unknown treasures, and it is widely believed that, should they perish at sea, in the afterlife they will prosper at the haven of Ieodo Island. Those committed to making art, too, make similar dives in the hopes of emerging at, or perhaps creating, a place where things can be and are different. SH + MW


A Collector of Lives

It has been people that have always brought magical moments to me in the middle of my life experiences. As my curiosity led me to trace the encounters secretly placed amid the daily cracks, they have unfolded their lively moments as they break down the society and the nation, and ideologies and politics, and reveal the facets of the boundaries. I could pay attention to the crossings of life and art through a process of an experiment of listening to their stories and documenting them in diverse manners.

A series of works I have carried on with “Daily Experts” since 2009 has raised many questions on the environment that forms art in the boundary of daily life and art, and also on artistic acts and attitudes as an artist. A process of asking questions and answering them was crystalized in a poetic and performative video work titled The Habit of Art (2012), a collaboration with Kim Cheol-woong, a pianist who defected from North Korea, and Uhm Eun Kyung, a pianist from South Korea, was an experiment to see if artists can overcome politics and ideological conflicts with artistic imagination by jointly composing a piece of music.

Currently, my interest in synesthesia was triggered by portraying Lee Jong Ryeol, a piano tuner, and has been expanded to the extent where I approach the question of whether synesthesia, a specific and individual experience, is something to be shared with others.