“There was this little prince with a magic crown. An evil warlock kidnapped him, locked him in a cell in a huge tower and took away his voice. There was a window made of bars. The prince would smash his head against the bars hoping that someone would hear the sound and find him. The crown made the most beautiful sound that anyone ever heard. You could hear the ringing for miles. It was so beautiful that people wanted to grab the air. They never found the prince. He never got out of the room. But the sound he made filled everything up with beauty.”
The quote above comes from Julian Schanabel’s film "Basquiat," but it resonated in me–and later on the walls of Fellini Gallery–when I heard Edlodie Abouquir sing on the opening night of “Butterfly out of Eden." Though less dramatic and certainly not as victimized than the little prince’s imprisonment, the group show’s theme hits a similiar ring. It shows the work of eight Korean artists who, for one reason or another, now find themselves living in France, away from their “Eden” or anything they could call home, imprisoned in the unfamiliar.
But I knew that not all of the works on display, nor the disposition of the artists, delved in melancholy. Some of these artists welcomed the culture shock and used the tension as a creative strategy, while others adapted to it and metamorphosed into their circumstance. In the former camp we find the work on display by Hyunjung Lim, which attracted me immediately with its simplicity and poetic resonance. Hyunjung reconstructs puzzles but sets the puzzle pieces outside of the frame. The inner quadrangle remains empty, while the guts of content spill outside of its borders.
I had to catch up with Hyunjung to know more about the work and her experience. Here’s her interview:
BAPS: For those of us not familiar with your work, could you give us a brief introduction into your creative practice? What are your main focuses as an artist?
Hyunjung Lim: My work focuses on re-experiencing subjective appearances through recomposition of common objects or images that we can come into contact with. This work process sheds light on objects which may inadvertently be overlooked allowing each quality to shine through. The objects that undergo re-composition can be said to be in a state where imagination and the qualities of the object in its most natural form co-exist through re-experiences. This “state” is maintained after a series of clashes between one’s own personal experiences and archetypal experiences. Thus, I refer to this objet as an “experiential body” which is also an important keyword in my work.
BAPS: Could you tell us a bit about your personal decision to fly away, as it were, from home?
HL: I believe that we live in a time where being a foreigner is not so foreign anymore. The only difference is when we stand in a line to pass customs at the airport where we are classified as either a citizen of a country or a foreigner. Although I am currently active in France, there wasn’t this sort of big leap of faith I needed to come to France. It all began with a simple feeling of wanting to live somewhere else for about 10 years of my life when I saw people making plans for their future in units of 10 years. It was as if I moved to another house, but a bit farther. In that sense I didn’t fly away from home; I just so happen to be here at the moment.
Artist Hyunjung Lim in front of one of her "puzzles" at Fellini gallery. Photo: Chris Phillips
BAPS: What is the best thing about being an “other” in a foreign land? What is the worst?
HL: The best thing about being an “other” is the fact that I am sort of this “stranger” or “alien” in a foreign land which can also be the worst thing from time to time. Since I am this outsider, I don’t need to be involved in certain things that I don’t want to be involved with, both in terms of social or personal issues. However, this can also be the reason for exclusion, isolation, or discrimination just by the fact that I am a stranger which is the worst thing that one can experience in a foreign land.