BEAT. SPREAD OUT. 2014-
This work compares two traditional Korean techniques: joomchi, a paper-felting process, and tadumi, a method of doing laundry. The installation features a screen displaying footage of a woman using wooden clubs to flatten fabrics. As this process was traditionally done pairs, the artist joins the woman in the video, sitting across her projected image and beating the fibers with her. Throughout the process, the freshly-pounded mulberry paper gets immersed and rinsed in a water basin in the middle of the room. Water is an agent of both creation and destruction in paper-felting: it plays an integral part in the interlocking or disjointing of fibers.
Once beat, the artist hangs the felted paper on a drying rack above the basin, letting it surrender to gravity. By contrast, the rear wall displays dried paper that has been tension-stretched, resembling completed animal hides at a tannery. Yet the artist takes down pieces of seemingly complete work at times as well, re-soaking and repeating the paper-felting cycle to give it new life.
During the two-week exhibition, the museum space was transformed into an interactive artist’s workspace. The installation and performance began at one third of the final size, evolving and growing with contributions from the audience. Viewers were encouraged to physically shape the project’s output on an everyday basis: they were invited not only to participate in the paper-felting process but also to try on the clothes-like papers hanging on a coat rack next to the entrance of the museum.