As an artist from Seoul, South Korea, and currently based in Los Angeles, I am invested in exploring both points of connection between disparate cultures, social classes, and histories and how these disparities also marginalize groups of individuals in societies impacted and shaped by Western hegemony. The materials and objects used in my work are residues, leftovers, or imprints of labor, time, memory, and history that are both personal and public. By putting together these charged materials, the physical presence of collectivity hints at the alternative potential of what is left behind us.
Some of my site-specific installationsexplored various social conflicts, including generational conflict, class, and gentrification. De/re-constructing meticulously chosen found materials, I examined the possibility of sculptural occupation of gallery spaces to comment on political issues in local communities. In White Wall and White Cube, using abandoned furniture from evacuated neighborhoods due to gentrification and massive redevelopment projects, I created walls and flooring for art exhibitions. As the titles ironically imply, the “neutral” art spaces were covered with materials marked with the residents’ time and memory. In doing so, they both question the role of art in local communities.
Informed by years of experience as a professional fabricator and historical research on Asian immigrant labor in America, my recent projects revolve around the theme of physical labor in the context of racialized Asian labor. In Town Square is made of wood scraps left over from products I made for other people as a fabricator. As the physical proof of my labor and time, various small scrap pieces, which would otherwise have been discarded, gather and hold each other to create something bigger than the sum of their parts. The incense elements of the sculptures are made of hardwood sawdust, which was also collected from my labor. They are to be burned for visitors to inhale as an invitation to contemplate the meaning and existence of labor in history and everyday life.
My artistic goal is to challenge white male-dominant art history and spaces by deconstructing the Western visual language and recontextualize them with works infused with under-recognized labor, time, memory, and history. I carefully choose materials that are residues or imprints of personal struggles and cultural heritage. These found materials are my tools to occupy “neutral” art spaces and to connect myself to the larger notion of Asian labor, culture, and history. In doing so, I aim to challenge existing social hierarchies and offer a space for reflection and dialogue.