I wanted to go to a new place - an environment with a different culture and language - to have unexpected experiences; something unpredictable. When I first started school in NZ, it was a completely different system of teaching than what I was used to. Art class was my favourite time, as I could do things I wanted to do… there were not many rules! I could confront more unpredictable processes and results, and I had much greater freedom to explore this new environment in ways I could not in other arenas.
My work became more autobiographical since I spent some additional time living in Seoul, these two places [Korea and New Zealand] feed back into each other and into in my practice.
I enjoy how my work responds to these distinct influences coming together, and also how it can stand apart from them also. It creates a distant dialogue between my different situations and locations that is less self-referential and more to do with finding common ground.
Everyone I encounter seems to be doing something - be it in art or life - that I am fascinated by how creative they are. I am constantly startled and impressed by creative people. In response, I try to discover what I can do and re-imagine this through layers of perception embedded in my work.
I was approached by the Directors of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and City Gallery Wellington and they asked if I would be interested in presenting a new body of work with a mix of existing works.
It’s been an extraordinary opportunity to put together a wide variety of works in a large space, revisiting some past projects and works from museum collections, some reassembled for the first time. I’ve seen how the new works are able to interplay with other works and create a new dialogue between them and the viewer. This allows different spaces (physical and cultural) to be experienced in new and unique ways.
I wanted to gather together works from my multiple practices and continue to explore their dynamic interactions with an audience.
Among the new works is Sphere Square, which is basically a giant beanbag. It almost fills up the entire room and people can relax on it or climb up and into the squishy hills that it makes. I found that it really starts to activate the work once people lose track of themselves in this foreign environment – either completely absorbed into relaxing or jumping around and screaming! I notice their behaviour change once they know it can be played with, despite being in a gallery space. Their interaction in a moment of uninhibited bodily freedom allows spatial and cultural norms to become interchangeable.
The Huggong (inflatables) series tends to be re contextualized every time it is installed in a different space, they change their mass and form in response to the character and dimensions of the architectural spaces they encounter. So, rather than being remade, the objects themselves seem to reform in response to the limits of breath in a room.
In this exhibition, some elements from works that were first drawn or painted reappear in a physical, three-dimensional form, and sometimes other way round. They link to each other in cycles and recycling of suggestions and challenges.
I am curious and I’m innately responsive, in that I respond to the ever-changing fields of artistic and cultural questions and the subsequent modes of display that seem most appropriate to me at the time of making. Being open to a variety of media opens up options of activities, ways of seeing and new meanings. It’s like responding to everyday decisions such as choosing whether you want rice or noodles.
Air is an element that fully expands its form and creates faux mass and space. The works contain breath and make it tangible, but it is also vulnerable and its containment is precarious. It has a temporal presence that can be formed or deformed by breathing out, and this crystal breath can inhabit architecture.
I hope my exhibition itches and scratches the audiences and myself. That it inhabits the viewers’ future selves and slips into their waking dreams.
I plan to go to Korea, where I can carry on research and producing works for a solo exhibition at Starkwhite, and I'm also working on a temporary public sculpture in Auckland. — [O]