Chung Soyoung's installations, sculptures, photography, and moving-image works are driven by geology. They investigate the layers of time embedded in the earth and the relationship between the natural and artificial worlds.Read More
Many of Chung Soyoung's works often juxtapose elements of natural and urban environments to prompt alternative approaches to engaging with the world. The large-scale installation Travelling Without Moving (2013) is an artificial landscape made from poured concrete, plaster, and sand, resembling a cross section of sedimentary layers. Chung was inspired by an aspiration to make 'a growing wall or land', as she told Hello!Artist in 2017. She reconsiders the concept of travel not only as horizontal movement across the earth's surface, but also the traversal of vertical layers of time buried below the ground.
Chung Soyoung has participated in the Real DMZ Project, an ongoing project initiated by Curator Sunjung Kim in 2012 that revolves around the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea.
As part of the project, the artist undertook a three-month residency in 2016 at Yangji-ri, a small village near the DMZ that the South Korean government created for propaganda in the 1970s, during which she explored the conflicting yet inseparable notions of the outside and inside.
This is evident in House Party (2016), for which Chung installed greenhouses at the village square and invited performers and writers to mingle with the residents. Providing a physical stage for the party, the greenhouses became markers of outside and inside, at once transparent but separating, open but closed.
Participating in Negotiating Borders, a 2019 Real DMZ Project exhibition at the Korean Cultural Centre UK, London, Chung used shading nets to create a guard post. Titled Watchhouse (2019), the work is almost opaque where the nets overlap, offering room for concealment.
Chung Soyoung has expanded her geological expeditions into the ocean, continuing to interrogate the uncertainty of established orders. In the installation Island for Fishermen (2018), for example, the artist recycles buoys found from the seashore in different positions, as if they are floating in an invisible ocean. Though used to demarcate territories in the sea, the buoys in Chung's work are without direction, and their places of origin are unclear.
Island for Women (2018) accompanies Island for Fishermen. It consists of a system of clear cubicles that contain wax sculptures made from buoys and volcanic rocks. Representing the different layers of the sea, the work suggests that components of nature can be categorised and presented at will by humans.
Sea Cucumber, Manganese and Ear, Chung Soyoung's first solo exhibition in five years at Seoul's ONE AND J. Gallery in 2021, continues to engage with the ocean. Among the works on view were a 2021 version of Island for Fishermen, consisting of three buoys, with the smallest appearing to float as if in water.
Selected solo exhibitions include Sea Cucumber, Manganese and Ear, ONE & J. Gallery, Seoul (2021); Night and Day, Offsite Art Sonje, Seoul (2016); Travelling without moving, D Project Space, Daelim Museum, Seoul (2013); On the Ground Floor of Geology Building, OCI Museum of Art, Seoul (2011); A different kind of tension, Kumho Museum of Art, Seoul (2007).
Group exhibitions include Negotiating Borders, Korean Cultural Centre UK, London (2019); Power Play, Delfina Foundation, London (2019); Delfina in SeongEun: Power Play, SongEun Art Space, Seoul (2018); The Real DMZ, New Art Exchange, Nottingham, U.K. (2018); Triangulating Particulars, HilbertRaum, Berlin (2017); Re-Play: 4 Platforms and 17 Events, Seoul Museum of Art (2015); Galapagos, Ilmin Museum of Art, Seoul (2012); Moving Museum, Kumho Museum of Art, Seoul (2009).
Chung Soyoung studied at the Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, graduating in 2003. She has been living and working in Seoul since 2007.
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021