Artist Seoyoung Chung: ‘There is something so significant and still so preposterous about sculpture’

Stella McDaniel

“I’m conscious that I’m not intended to have favourites,” states Seoyoung Chung, “but ‘The Time is Now’ is one of those people performs that is closest to my coronary heart, even although it did not get considerably essential interest. So I just enable it be. What could I do?”

The South Korean artist is referring to her 2012 sculpture, which captures the ways in which her perform is as a lot about time as it is about make any difference. Central to her practice are times in which every day objects these types of as carpet, plastic vases, sponges and styrofoam are remodeled into a function of artwork immediately after a prolonged method of what she refers to as “negotiations” — equally deliberate and inadvertent moves. “Sometimes, the approach of creating sculpture is just like a sport of term chain,” she states, “where just one issue qualified prospects to the other, and I have minimal control more than what will come out of it.

“I was repainting this gray metal desk to use it as a part of my sculpture, and I knocked it more than by accident, very stupidly so,” she claims on a Zoom phone from her house in Seoul, her significant bob haircut and metal-body eyeglasses balanced by her candid humour. “It fell on to the floor with a huge bang, and that was when I observed these two unusual holes on its area.” So she filled in the holes with cosy wooden blocks, put a sheet of glass on top rated and freestanding V-formed picket legs under, then stabilised the total thing with slim scraps of wood underneath.

The consequence is an arrangement of inconspicuous items now imbued with idiosyncratic rigidity. Like many of her performs, the sculpture gets rid of features and symbolism from its constituent elements, pivoting them in opposition to why they are intended to exist.

‘The Time is Now’ (2012) © Courtesy the artist and Barakat Modern day

The tension inside “The Time is Now” will be palpable as part of Chung’s premier solo presentation to day, organised by the Seoul Museum of Artwork and opening on September 1. Entitled What I Observed Now, the exhibition marks a rare occasion to see will work that span her 30-year vocation.

Chung arrived of age in the late 1990s, just after finishing her studies at Seoul National College and the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Stuttgart. “Throughout my studies in South Korea and Germany, I experienced small advice. I went to see exhibits with my friends and experienced rigorous discussions with my professors intermittently, but most of the time, I was sitting on your own in the studio, just studying and wondering, seriously.” Before long just after returning to Seoul, she was associated by critics with artists this sort of as Beom Kim and Sora Kim, a free group of experimental voices who prompted a so-referred to as “conceptual turn” in modern Korean artwork.

‘Wave’ (portion of the set up get the job done ‘Ghost, Wave, Fire’, 1988-2022) © Courtesy the artist and Barakat Modern day

“It’s a bit of a misnomer, while, this plan of ‘conceptual turn’,” she suggests. “I’m not a conceptual artist.” In truth, she is fairly in contrast to the top figures of the 1960s movement these as Sol LeWitt, who prioritised the thought guiding the get the job done of art around its execution. “A whole lot of what I make is private, and on top of it all, I like operating with resources and creating issues with my fingers!”

These types of was the circumstance for “Lookout” (1999), which will also feature in the SeMA presentation – a wooden reconstruction of a humble observation desk, which the artist encountered in a postcard despatched by a close friend. “It might be that my get the job done seemed to have borrowed from the minimalist aesthetics of conceptual artwork, but my function was, and however is, targeted on the dilemma of sculpture.

‘Lookout’ (1999) © courtesy of the artist and Barakat Up to date

“I in some way imagine that by means of sculpture, we can trace all varieties of human conduct in the course of hundreds of years, no matter if they be cultural or social . . . It supplies a area from which we can bear in mind these thoughts,” suggests Chung. “There is something so comprehensive, so significant and nonetheless concurrently so absurd about the medium.” So, irrespective of slight excursions into photography, efficiency and video, sculpture has remained her central language.

‘Ice-product Refrigerator and Cake Refrigerator’ (2007) © Courtesy the artist and Barakat Modern day

The presentation of discordant or even conflicting ideas in her is effective is what Chung imagines in What I Noticed Currently. “It’s variety of a retrospective, but it is also not,” she states wryly, “because I would detest to historicise myself at this level in time.” Rather than current a linear advancement of the artist’s observe, the exhibition will serve as one sweeping set up, wherever performs from the past two yrs are shown adjacent to her before items. “Much of the set up procedure will be expended on locating the correct press and pull, to change the area into a environment that is uniquely activated by the individual arrangement of functions.

“It’s a problem, definitely, like every installation,” Chung states. “But with this demonstrate, I would like to have an situation to experience the problems that await my everyday living as an artist.” Even although on the lookout back into the past, what fears her is the existing and the infinite alternatives embedded within just it. “You know, some people say that objects will vanish and are previously disappearing. And I agree. It’s quite clear that they will, as it appears like us individuals and the Earth will as perfectly. But because no one particular is aware of when that would be, we far better concentrate on the present.” For Chung, the time is often now.

‘What I Observed Today’ operates to November 13, sema.seoul.go.kr

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