Art Nerd New York | Los Angeles

Yeondoo Jung at PLATEAU: Translating the Hopes, Dreams and Passions of Ordinary People

My latest from
Yeondoo Jung’s latest exhibition, “Spectacle in Perspective,” which opened at PLATEAU, Samsung Museum of Art last week, is an impressive and extensive collection of forty works by the acclaimed Korean artist, including two new major projects. In his first museum show in his home country in six years, the exhibition follows Jung’s career from early photography works to his more complicated infusions of new media and performance that have defined his projects in recent years. A continual theme, which Jung applies across many mediums, is the idea of bringing the fantasies, dreams and memories of ordinary people to life, translating them into his own bold and colorful language through elaborately staged photographs, videos and installations. The hyperreal exhibition will take over PLATEAU until June 8, 2014.
Still from Documentary Nostalgia, 2007. All images courtesy of Yeondoo Jung.
Jung has made a name for himself as one of the most important Korean contemporary artists, having been declared the Artist of the Year by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Korea in 2007, before exhibiting worldwide in biennial events, as well as venues like PERFORMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Mito Tower in Japan. “Spectacle in Perspective” is a comprehensive survey of Jung’s work, which over the years has grown to incorporate heavily stylized and complicated productions in both film and performance. Through these elaborate sets and production methods, Jung explores his interest in the lives of ordinary people, paraphrasing their day-to-day actions, wishes, memories and dreams into a highly visual language – rendering elements of their lives as art.
Rabbit Family Hopping Around, from the Wonderland series, 2004.
2005’s Wonderland is an exquisite example of bringing dreams and fantasies to reality. For the project, Jung collected 1200 whimsical drawings by kindergarteners, and created photographs based on their scrawls and scenes in crayon. Working with a fashion designer, Jung embraced the children’s lack of perspective and misshaped figures, rendering mismatched sleeves, floating furniture and oversized props in the photographs, just as the children had drawn them.
Miss Sparkle Sprinkles the Magic, from the Wonderland series, 2004.
Documentary Nostalgia, a video depicting six scenes that travel from inside to out, were all shot in one take at Korea’s National Museum of Contemporary Art in 2007. The piece begins inside a chandeliered room, before moving to a street scene, then out into the country which is overtaken by dusk. The camera is fixed with Jung behind the lens, while dozens of assistants rapidly move walls, sets and props to integrate one scene to the next. Jung does not believe that nostalgia itself, as an idea or memory, can be documented. Yet he still considers the piece to be a documentary, instead going behind the scenes and documenting the actual filming process, which took place in one continuous shot over 85 minutes.
Still from Documentary Nostalgia, 2007.
Handmade Memories explores the anecdotes of Korean senior citizens, presenting their “most memorable incident” in their lives on a two channel presentation. On the right, is the elderly person recounting their tale, while on the left, Jung has interpreted this memory by building detailed, life sized sets on stage. The final piece is shown with both the reality (the story being told) and the fabrication (the sets) next to each other for all to compare.
Scene from Handmade Memories, 2009.
Another of Jung’s earlier video pieces, Six Points, from 2010, depicts a continuous street scene that travels throughout different ethnic neighborhoods within New York City. Jumping from an Indian neighborhood to Little Italy to Koreatown and beyond, Jung has given the film an illusory quality by lighting each pedestrian in the six scenes with their own bright bulb, blowing out the shadows of reality. But the visuals are then grounded, with an audio pairing by a person of native ethnicity to each street, who offers a short and personal narrative about their lives.
Still from Six Points, 2010.
For “Spectacle in Perspective,” Jung has created a piece inspired by the venue PLATEAU, which was formerly the Rodin Gallery. In 2011 the space opened up to exhibiting Korean and international contemporary art, but still houses a permanent installation of August Rodin’s sculptural masterpiece, The Gates of Hell. With respect to the museum’s history, Jung has created Virgil’s Path, a 3D media re-creation of Rodin’s sculpture, rendered as a virtual sculpture instead of Rodin’s signature weighty cast bronze. The piece was inspired by Siratori, a blind Japanese man Jung met at his gallery, who likes to take pictures and show them to others. Siratori’s art making and interest in art (by having it described to him) inspired Jung to attempt to create a piece that was not truly there, like pictures in the mind of the blind man. The modern rendition causes the viewer to question the meaning of reality, being an art work that one can see, but that does not actually exist. The virtual piece can be seen through a 3D video device.
Virgil’s Path, 2014.
Crayon Pop Special is another new piece that returns to Jung’s interest in collaborating with ordinary people – this time choosing middle-aged male fans of the popular K-Pop girl group, Crayon Pop who call themselves Popjushi. Viewers are invited to experience and share in the excited fandom of the Popjushi, through virtual reality, performance and video, bringing viewers closer to a smaller facet of Korean society – in this case, middle-aged men who idolize pop stars. With Crayon Pop Special, participants can share first-hand in the innermost desires of these fans.
Crayon Pop Special, 2014.
Throughout the exhibition of his life’s works, Jung shows his penchant for engaging different social and ethnic groups through art, encouraging a relationship with his alluring visuals. His pieces unify these diverse peoples involved in the making of the work with the creation of something higher – art.  Expanding the circle with the finished works, viewers become connected, being drawn into his imaginative worlds, and into bits of the lives of the people involved. Ever sympathetic to the details of society, Jung uses his art-making as a tool for the faceless citizens to communicate their hopes, dreams and passions, transforming the mundane nuances of daily life into enjoyable, fantastical and relatable art works that have made their mark in contemporary art.
One Response to “Yeondoo Jung at PLATEAU: Translating the Hopes, Dreams and Passions of Ordinary People”
  1. Sally Cooper says:

    I’d love to see these. MT: Yeondoo Jung at PLATEAU:Translating the Hopes, Dreams..

Leave A Comment

Clicky Web Analytics