Dots:Motgol66

Dots: Motgol66

Entirely covering an empty house set to be demolished and replaced by a high-rise apartment

using thumbprint with Asian Traditional Ink ,

Motgol, Busan, South Korea_2015/Photo by Young-moon Ha

There’s a growing issue in the small port town of Motogol. Situated within Korea’s second largest city of Busan, the town is facing a redevelopment crisis in which urbanization is threatening Motogol’s traditional architecture and it’s inhabitants. While redevelopment is important and improving the conditions of towns like Motogol is a good thing, Jazoo Yang questions the balance of such progress. Often, the inhabitants of these ancient villages are forced to leave their homes, even if they want to stay. They must watch as the places they have lived in are destroyed and are rarely compensated for their loss.
Since the end of the Korean War, South Korea has continued to grow both in terms of population and economic strength. With this, however has come a clash between its traditional culture and new metropolitan living style. While South Korea has had to adapt to accommodate its increasing population, the government has been criticized for its controversial and aggressive redevelopment policies that seem to exploit the poorest people in the country.

This is where Jazoo Yang’s Dots: Motgol 66 comes in. Armed with a small amount of red paint, Yang coats the side of condemned buildings with rows and rows of her fingerprints. As well as being visually stunning the use of fingerprints has several symbolic connotations. The most obvious of which is the relationship between culture and identity. Your fingerprints are the only things, physically, that mark you as unique. But tied closely to that idea of who we are as an individual is our cultural heritage and the traditions that come with that. By choosing to mark these buildings with her fingerprints, Yang seems to be saying that your cultural traditions are as intrinsically part of you as your fingerprints.

The artist has also stated that the use of Jijang (finger or thumbprints) is like a “public expression about promise, contract, pledge or oath.” These words, along with the use of inju (red paint), are reminiscent of a blood pact. It’s as if Yang has cut open her thumb and promised to remember these buildings and what they represent forever. There’s also an element of permanence vs fluctuation in her work. While both the building and the fingerprints on them are soon to be destroyed, the message of the piece, like the tips of your fingers, will never change. Despite these sophisticated layers of meaning behind the work there’s an element of primitive or tribal art. This is not only appropriate because does the work examine the connection we have with our own history but it is also about human dwellings and the continuing evolution of the places we live.

By Jamie Finn (Editior of KEUNSORY KOREA)

[‘INJU’ is an ink-soaked pad used for inking a stamp or taking thumbprints. Usually it is made of castor oil and silk from cocoons.

Inju Thumbprint is different with fingerpaint. It is called, ‘Jijang’, in Korean. ‘Jijang’ is an act of dipping one’s thumb into ink pad to

imprint fingerprint, and it’s similar to that of a signature and is commonly used in public offices and on important documents or

contracts, and has the legal significance and effect. Thus, ‘Jijang’ is a more public expression about promise, contract, pledge, and oath, and

like the seal of western nobles and royalties, it also means presenting oneself.]

Starting Memory

-Suzy Park( Curator, B-art editor)

We start our day by checking social media. Newsfeeds are filled with death. There are too many unrecorded deaths in this world where we are living, where things are collapsing, disappearing, and dying everyday. Not all of the deaths are caused by war or natural disaster. A lot of deaths are caused by big powers growing more powerful and oppressing smaller powers, leaving them isolated. If death means loss, one might believe we could restore the loss by memory and documentation. Maybe that is why people constantly share, retweet, and like the news of international disasters. However, the simple action of touch is not enough to resolve the anger and vast emptiness in us. What should we remember and how? For artist JAZOO Yang, these are natural questions rather than something chosen. The artist also uses her thumb, but where she touches is somewhere different.

Before writing this article, I looked around the Motgol[1] with artist JAZOO Yang and photographer Young-moon Ha, which is ruined and filled with building waste now. At that point, the artist had already finished her project in a vacant house in the Motgol, visiting there 2-3 times a week. The landscape of the village reminded me of scenes after a war in photographs. Under a huge billboard that read DaeyeonㅇㅇDistrict Housing Reconstruction and Maintenance Project and loomed over the landscape, there were a few houses that looked unstable and were marked with red paint that said Gonga, Albagi[2], or Demolition. Most of the houses there had already been completely torn down by a few swings of a crane. I couldn’t help feeling helpless for some reason.

JAZOO Yang has worked on demolition fields before, like in Ahyeon-dong(Seoul) or New Town Wangsimni. She collected building waste as objects and drew on them; engraved repetitious images on site; and made an altar that she carried around the site. In this project, Dots: Motgol66, it seems like she became more sensitive, like the wall through which she feels the world became much thinner. Holding an Inju[3] in one hand, she fills the outer wall of a building with her thumbprints from the other hand. She prints her finger on the wall until the ink on her thumb fades away and then inks her thumb again and keeps printing, repeatedly and steadily. Being asked why she didn’t make all the marks clear, she said, “I realized that time is a space. The mark fading away is an expression of the flow of time and space itself.” For me, the comment was the clearest answer that represents remembering, since the constant action of marking her thumb during the time that she stayed in the space is the action of remembering the space.

If you think about the red handprints that were found with the oldest mural in the world in France’s Chauvet Cave in 1994, the act of hand printing must be quite primal. From written pledges to contracts, now the thumbprint[4] has more social meaning than before. Once, a demolition worker approached the artist and startled her, saying, “What are you doing here? Is it like a million won for each thumbprint? Why don’t you make the title of this work ‘Rush and Cash[5]’?” In another episode after that, the demolition worker taught her how to use the Inju properly, saying it should be mixed with water.

The artist connects with the place by printing red thumbprints on the wall that are supposed to disappear. The red color, that used to look brutal and grotesque in the artist’s previous work, is now added with the artist’s own warmth and wrinkle (fingerprint) that moves on to the cold wall. The cold wall shows us the loss of the village, community, neighborhood, people, and looks sad among the ruins where no one can live anymore. The neighbors of Motgol who didn’t leave yet are frustrated about living in a dumpster and being isolated in a place that is filled with the threatening sound of demolition workers banging at their gates with a steel pipe. Maybe the fact that someone is visiting the abandoned village is a consolation for them, since some people ask the artist to do the work on their wall which had been spoiled with the red paint that says ‘Demolition’.

The process of her projects is a way to remember the place on the one hand, and a way to resist the power of capital on the other hand. Against the neo-liberalist value that destroys and regulates things that don’t meet capitalist interests, the artist says, “In an era like this, fragile and vulnerable things become even more valuable.” Dots: Motgol66 is the time and space that the artist left in a place that is going to be gone eventually. By working directly on site, she built a strong barricade that fundamentally prevents seizing capital from it.

One time, I was deeply impressed listening to the artist saying, “Everyone focuses on storing things but not on remembering.” We need to be more sensitive to our consciousness that is numbed by arbitrarily occurring disasters which we hear about daily. Huge power and capital combined with state violence prevent us from being sensitive. I believe memories can be shared without any limit and they become more powerful when we share them.

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[1] A small village located in Busan, Korea. Now the village is being torn down due to a reconstruction project.

[2] Meaning vacant house and illegal occupation respectively. Usually, construction companies mark these words with red paint on houses with tenants that resist moving out.

[3] An ink-soaked pad used for inking a stamp or taking fingerprints. Usually it is made of castor oil and silk from cocoons.

[4] An impression or mark made on a surface by the inner part of the top joint of the thumb, especially as used for identifying individuals from the unique pattern of whorls and lines. A thumbprint on a contract between individuals or public offices has legal force.

[5] One of the biggest credit loan companies in Korea.

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시작하는 기억

-박수지(독립 큐레이터, B-art 에디터)

 

눈을 뜨면 SNS를 시작합니다. 알림창에 올라오는 새로운 소식은 온통 죽음입니다. 지금 우리가 발 딛고 있는 곳에 기록되지 못하는 죽음이 너무나 많습니다. 하루가 멀다하고 붕괴되고, 사라지고, 죽어가는 곳. 전쟁이 일어난 것도, 자연 재해가 발생한 것도 아닙니다. 보다 큰 힘이 그 힘을 가지고 보다 작은 힘을 고립시키는 모든 곳에서 이 죽음들이 태어납니다. 죽음이 상실이라면 그 상실은 기억과 기록으로 복원할 수 있는 것이 아닐까요. 그래서인지 요 며칠 일어난 초국가적 재난들에 많은 이들이 공유하기, 리트윗, 좋아요 등을 반복합니다. 하지만 엄지 손가락을 터치하는 일로만 끝내기에는 그 분노의 에너지에 비해 무언가 공허하다는 느낌을 지울 수 없습니다. 무엇을 기억할 것인가? 어떻게 기억할 것인가? 양자주 작가에게 이것은 선택의 문제라기 보다 자연스러움에 가깝습니다. 작가 역시 엄지 손가락을 사용하나 그 터치가 머무르는 장소는 조금 다릅니다.

이 글을 쓰기 전 양자주 작가, 하영문 포토그래퍼와 함께 건축폐기물로 변한 못골을 둘러보았습니다. 작가는 이미 일주일에 두 세 번 정도씩 못골을 방문해 한 폐가에 작업을 마친 후 였습니다. 그 곳의 풍경은 사진으로만 보던 전쟁 후의 모습을 방불케 했습니다. 거대하게 서서 지상의 풍경을 내려다보는 ‘대연oo구역 주택재개발 정비사업’이라 쓰인 간판 아래에는 붉은색 스프레이로 ‘공가’ ‘알박이’ ‘철거’ 등이 적혀있는 집들이 무척 불안한 모습으로 몇 채 남아있었습니다. 대부분의 집들은 이미 포크레인의 몇 차례 휘적거림에 산산히 부서져 버린지 오래였습니다. 왠지 무기력한 기분이 드는 것을 떨치기 어려웠습니다.

양자주 작가는 이전에도 서울의 아현동, 왕십리 뉴타운 등의 철거 현장에서 작업을 해온 바 있습니다. 버려진 건축폐기물을 오브제화 시켜 드로잉을 하거나, 파괴된 현장에 반복된 이미지를 새기기도 하고, 제단을 꾸려 그곳을 돌아보기도 했습니다. 이번 <Dots : 못골66>은 사뭇 더 민감해진 느낌입니다. 세계와 접촉하는 벽이 얇아진 느낌이랄까요. 한 손에는 인주를 들고, 다른 손의 엄지 손가락을 찍어 건물 외벽을 채워나갑니다. 한번 손에 묻은 인주가 희미해질 때까지 찍기를 반복하고, 다시 인주를 묻혀 성실히 찍어나가는 것입니다. 왜 모든 점을 선명하게 찍지 않았는가 하는 질문에 작가는 다음의 답변을 들려주었습니다. 시간이 공간이라는 것을 확실히 깨닫게 되었어요. 점점 흐려지는 인주의 농담이 시간의 흐름이자 공간적 표현이 되는 것이죠.” 어쩌면 이 대답이 ‘기억하기’를 대변하는 가장 명징한 표현이 아닐까요. 공간을 기억한다는 행위는 공간에 오랜 시간 자리한 시간을 복기한다는 것으로써 말입니다.

1994년 프랑스에서 발견된 세계에서 가장 오래된 벽화가 있는 쇼베동굴에 새겨진 인류의 붉은 손바닥 자국부터 살펴보자면, 손의 무늬를 찍는 행위는 꽤나 원초적인 것입니다. 서약서의 약속, 계약서의 약정까지 이제 지장은 더 많은 사회적 함의를 담고 있습니다. 한번은 작업을 하던 중 철거 용역이 다가와 겁을 준 적이 있다고 합니다. 여기서 뭐하는거야? 이거 지장 하나에 백만원씩만 빌려도 얼마야? 작품 제목을 러시앤 캐시로 해.” 후에는 그 용역이 인주는 물에 섞어 써야 하는 것이라며 재료 사용 노하우도 전수해줬다는 에피소드도 있습니다.

작가는 사라질 것이 정해진 장소에 붉은 지장으로 그 곳과 접속합니다. 작가의 이전 드로잉과 페인팅에 다소 참혹하고 그로테스크하게 쓰였던 붉은 색이 이제 작가의 손이 가진 특유의 온기와 그 손이 가진 특유의 주름-지문-을 더해 차가운 벽으로 이동하는 것입니다. 차가운 벽이란 마을, 동네, 골목, 커뮤니티의 온기가 사라진 장소이자 무엇보다 사람이 ‘살지 못하게 되어버린’ 곳이 가진 폐허의 쓸쓸함입니다. 아직 못골을 떠나지 않고 있는 주민들은 스스로 ‘쓰레기 더미에 살고 있다’는 절망감과, 밤마다 용역들이 쇠파이프로 대문 앞에서 위협하는 소리에 싸여 고립된 나날을 지속하고 있습니다. 아무도 돌아보지 않는 동네에 사람이 다가갔다는 사실 자체만으로도 하나의 위안인지 ‘빨간 스프레이로 철거라고 휘갈겨진 내 집에도 작업 해달라’는 주문(?)도 들어온다고 합니다.

사실 이 모든 작업의 과정은 기억의 행위이면서도 한편으로는 자본의 흡수력에 대한 작가적 저항으로도 볼 수 있습니다. 이윤이라는 단 한 가지 가치를 위해서라면 무엇이든 없애도 된다는 무자비함, 상품가치를 존속시키는 기준에 합당하지 않으면 거세시켜버리는 신자유주의적 폭력에 작가는 다음과 같이 말합니다. 지금같은 시대야말로 연약한 것, 부서지기 쉬운 것이 더 가치있다고 생각해요.” <Dots : 못골66>은 끝내 사라질 운명에 놓인 장소에 남긴 시간이자 공간입니다. 바로 그 현장에 작업을 해 놓음으로써 자본의 포섭을 원천적으로 차단하는 강력한 바리케이트를 만들어낸 것입니다.

언젠가 작가가 언급한 다음의 말을 듣고 무릎을 탁 친 적이 있습니다. 모두들 저장하려고만 하지 기억하려고 하지 않는 것 같아요.” 산발적으로 놓인 일상의 재난들 앞에 지나치게 둔감해진 감각들을 조금은 열어볼 필요가 있습니다. 자본과 국가적 폭력이 결합된 거대한 힘이 이 감각을 마비시키고 있습니다. 기억은 얼마든지 공유할 수 있고, 함께 기억하려고 할 때 더 살아날 수 있지 않을까요.