ONE AND J. Gallery presents Chung Soyoung's Sea Cucumber, Manganese and Ear between 3 June and 11 July—her first solo exhibition in five years. Chung has explored geology, oceanography and geopolitics through the objects surrounding us. This exhibition reorganises the nine pieces of her works into three spaces along with curator's text.
Chung's works have been produced while pondering philosophical questions about time that the myriad materials surrounding our lives have passed through. Chung said she found a stone one day, and it inspired her to imagine the time of the Earth. Her interest spontaneously reached beneath the Earth's surface (geology) she stood on and above it (geopolitics). Erosion and deposition serves as keys to understanding the universal history of creation and annihilation. It was when her imagination extended from soil to continents, from horizon to borders, from cities to islands, to become new weaving stories of individual, historical, natural memories. Chung has recently expanded her vision into oceanic spacetime (oceanography), where there would probably be no human soul, no human being, ever. From a human's point of view, imagining the hadal zone amounts to calling for a spacetime in another dimension, just as moving into the universe, toward infinity. The artist put forward a long-time consideration reflecting on geological movement and oceanic epoch to face them as they are.
Sea Cucumber, Manganese and Ear leads to daily life across the water and earth surfaces, starting from the deep sea that no human would reach. The exhibition becomes a reservoir for stories with warped matters and inflections of the eyes. The events of time are embellished with embossed and etched figures, and they infinitely move to 'a certain place', according to the properties of matter. They are no less than potential affairs, a preview of what's coming next. The place would perhaps realise the flow of the time that nothing would be concluded. With Chung, what if you follow a point of view of the substances, instead of your eyes capturing the physical substances? The Earth is hidden behind the things around us. I strain my ears, again, to the orbital echoes coming from between the stratum lines and the ocean facets.
Sea cucumbers and manganese are metaphors for organisms and non-organisms that would potentially continue to be divided. Sea Cucumbers live deep in the sea. They would vomit the organs, and segment the bodies into two parts, to defend themselves from predators. The segmented bodies would be each individual entity—an outstanding capacity to regenerate that it is hard to determine when they would die. Called black gold, Manganese nodule is a mineral cluster containing cobalt, nickel, copper and others. It is formed through an accumulation of time in the lowest layer in the ocean. Not only it is used for oil refineries, aircraft engines and steel industries. But also it is a vital nutrient for the human body, and it helps grains to grow. It is an organism and non-organism, symbolising an abstract time of the universe, that serves as an essential energy element for many creatures such as sea cucumbers reproducing themselves to live everlasting lives. An Ear is a part of the body, an organ of hearing and balance. It functions in this exhibition as a contact device corresponding to the outside world, a suggestion for such attitudes as 'approaching' and 'nearing'.
Chung Soyoung (b. 1979, Korea) received her DNSAP at Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris in France. She has held solo exhibitions at ONE AND J. Gallery, Seoul (2021); Offsite Art Sonje, Seoul (2016); Daelim Museum of Art, Seoul (2013); OCI Museum of Art, Seoul (2011); Project Space Sarubia, Seoul (2008); Kumho Museum of Art, Seoul (2007), Gallery Miss China Beauty, Paris (2006). She has also participated in group exhibitions at Delfina Foundation, London (2019); Total Museum of Art, Seoul (2018); Doosan Art Gallery, Seoul (2018); Hyundai Card Storage, Seoul (2018); SongEun Art Space, Seoul (2018); New Art Exchange, Nottingham (2018) and many more. She was awarded the SongEun Art Excellence Award in 2016, and also participated in Hyundai Card Gapado Artist-in-Residence, SeMA Nanji Residency, Clayarch Gimhae Residency, among others.
Press release courtesy One And J. Gallery.