2015 Pool Production 《Yuri An: The Unharvested Sea》
09.Jul.2015 - 09.Aug.2015
Title: 《Yuri An: The Unharvested Sea》
Artist: Yuri An
Curator: Jaeeun Jung
Exhibition period: July 9, 2015 - August 9, 2015
Opening Reception: July 9, 2015, Thursday, 6pm.
Artist Talk: August 1, 2015 Sat. 4pm, with Sohyun Ahn and siren Eun Young Jung
Venue: Art Space Pool, Seoul, Korea
Exhibition hour: 10am ~ 6pm (closed on Mondays)
Support: Seoul Museum of art
A poem dispatched to a seaof submerged words
Jaeeun Jung (curator, Art Space Pool)
At the end of her twenties,Yuri An departed fromwhat she had become accustomed to, and thus came to begin writing essays. She learned about words and writing from her grandmother, with whom she sharedall beginnings. She grew up absorbing the words and thoughts of her grandmother, a woman whohad always desiredto go somewhere, but never did. Perhaps it was inevitable that An wouldcome to leave acertain placeas a consequence of her grandmother’s influence. Her grandmother’s words foreverfollow her wherever she goes. An characterized herfirst publication, Writing on the Edge(2011), as not only a documentation of movement and micro-motion and of fight and reconciliation, but also her first list of vocabulary words, and the work reveals the beginning of a journey in which Anunceasingly follows in the footprints of the preceding words. Immediatelyafter she released her words—which were like a confession gathering together a certain passage inher life— to the world, the artist left to study abroad in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Perhaps a foreigner’slife begins withreleasing one’s own words. An was no exception. Herwords, blurred within astrange space and time, collide with other languages in her mind. Through this experience(one that anyone could undergo, butwhich would be unique for each individual), An became interested in two different existences—those of the past and the present, the home country and foreign country, and the phenomena aroused by these—and thusbecame compelled to continue creatingtext and video works.
Floating Land Drifting Heart: From Texel to Jeju, whichcomprehensivelyembodies the artist’s journey oftravel as aforeigner,takes shape in Texel, an island in the North Sea in the Netherlands. In this strange island, An recalls Jeju Island, the place she visited last before departing for Amsterdam. Texel is the place where Hendrick Hamel (author of The Journal of Hendrick Hamel)beganhis voyage; it is “the first page” in along story from 400 years ago. Through Hamel’s story,which remainsin Texel, the artist empathizes with a man who himself embarked from the place where she currently stands (Texel) and in the end drifted to the place that she left (Jeju Island), in the process finding common groundas a fellowforeigner. As such, she is floatinga letter to Jeju Island, the place from which she left.
In the summer of 2014, Ancompleted her studies abroad and returned to Korea, leaving foreign stories behind. At the time she was preparing to return home, we were going through great sorrow—as if the entire country were sinking—due to Sewol Ferry Tragedy. Coincidentally, An was planning to visit Jin-do and Jeju-do to continue her project after Floating Land Drifting Heart,and she found herself dwelling onthe words and the people who still had yet to return. Then she carefully shifted her steps toward the painful seas, the painful islands, and the stories left behind there.
Surrounded by the ocean, islands possess their own long-held stories. In Jeollanam-do Jin-do, there is the handed-down story of “Bbong Halmeoni (Bbong Grandmother),” in which the Dragon King opened up a road in the sea after hearing Bbong Grandmother’searnest plea to be reunited with her separated family. Actually, the sea road opensevery February, allowing all to freely come and go to the land. During the same season, in the more distant ocean of Jeju, the ancestral rites and gut(shaman rituals) for “Yeong-Deung Halmae (Yeong-Deung Grandma)” are in full swing. The gut’s song for those who have left and those who have been left behind comforts the words that have driftedout into the sea but have not yet returned.
In The Unharvested Sea(2015), the artist brings the legends and myths floating in the sea together with the stories of people who left for the sea and those who were left in the sea. Hamel, who passed through Jeju; Odysseus, who left for the sea and returned to his hometown after 20 years;Bbong Halmeoni, who opened up a sea road with her heartfelt yearning for her family; and Yeong-Deung Halmae, who calls forththe wind for the abundance and peace ofthose who have been left behind: everyone meets and parts at a certain spot in the artist’s imagination. Their stories and the places they have passed through are re-written in An’s works and become pieces of a poem.
Having always been drawn to longing from afar,the artist felt a connection with Sookyeong Huh’s works and reached out tothe poet. The artist confessed to Huh that the poet’s stanzasgave her comfort. The poet responded with cold, yet pleased, words. Owing to this special relationship, the name Yuri emerged in Huh’s novel Mint, which was serially published at the time:
I named a donkey for Yuri. As soon as Yuri drank water and pretended to close his eyes, I climbed onto his back and tightened the reins,worrying that he would fall asleep. Yuri stood still, without moving, and then began to slowly walk. I recalled a god from the myth of the ancient kingdom. The god of the desert and oasis has an animal head similar to that of a donkey, and has a human body. I stroked the back of the donkey’s neck.
From Sookyeong Huh, Mint
The conversation between artist and poet, sustained by exchanging written correspondence,grew into an artwork with suchdepthas to draw out the significance of their first encounter. In this exhibition, Yuri An presents a text installation created by sorting through and refining her correspondence with Huh. Through the dialogue between two the artists (or the two poets), we are able to comprehend the stories and deliberations of the paths that An has pursued as an artist.
The videos, images, and texts that are based on legends and myths are quietly arrangedin the exhibition spacewithout the aid of specialequipment ortechnical skill. The video work permeates the space together with the composed sound, and the text installation hangs lightly suspended, as if the breeze could brush past ever slightly. In leaving the images and words adrift in this space, the artist attempts to visualize a still-open sore. Yuri An’s first solo exhibition The Unharvested Seais an epic poem embracing a long journey;as well, it is a lyrical poem embodying the longing and sympathy ofthis journey’severy moment.
In her correspondence with the artist, the poet Sookyeong Huh stated that the season of meeting a young artist is special in any weather, in any season. Like the poet’s expressionof“themost solitary and most distinctive individual”—in this case, the young artist who arrived by crossing the sea, carrying words not yet raised from the ocean’sdepths—this season,the one in which we meet Yuri An, will be remembered as something special.
Translated by Sunghee Lee and copy-edited by Joseph Fungsang

≪The Unharvested Sea≫
Yuri An, Floating Land Drifting Heart, 2015(re-edited), Single Channel Video, 5'42" (still cut)
Yuri An, The Unharvested Sea, 2015, Single Channel Video, 9'(still cut)
Yuri An, The Unharvested Sea, 2015, Single Channel Video, 9'(still cut)
Yuri An, The Unharvested Sea, 2015, Single Channel Video, 9'(still cut)
Yuri An, Sailing Words; A Dialogue with the Poet, Huh Sukyung, 2015, Text Installation
Yuri An, Floating Land Drifting Heart, 2014, Slide Projection, 20 pieces
2015 Pool Prodution 《Yuri An: The Unharvested Sea》, Photo by Eunsoo Lee ⓒYuri An, Art Space Pool
2015 Pool Prodution 《Yuri An: The Unharvested Sea》, Photo by Eunsoo Lee ⓒYuri An, Art Space Pool
2015 Pool Prodution 《Yuri An: The Unharvested Sea》, Photo by Eunsoo Lee ⓒYuri An, Art Space Pool
2015 Pool Prodution 《Yuri An: The Unharvested Sea》, Photo by Eunsoo Lee ⓒYuri An, Art Space Pool
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The website production was made possible by the patronage of Haegyu Yang.