Dots : Besançon, France, 2018

A collective mural with the participation of more than 250 young migrants and Besançon residents using their thumbprint with Asian traditional ink 'Inju'

Commissioned by Bien Urbain Festival 2018

photo : Élisa Murcia-Artengo


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

[ ‘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. ]

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)

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.
[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.

Asian traditional ink 'Inju' on abandoned boat, Stavanger, Norway 2018 

Commissioned by Nuart Festival 2018

Photo : Kristina Borhes

(...) In Stavanger, the artist marked a dilapidated, land-locked boat with thumbprints, alluding to the evisceration of traditional seafaring industries in Stavanger such as shipping and fishing in favour of the lucrative oil industry, as well as the global migrant crisis and widespread apathy towards the humanitarian crisis arising from forced migration on a mass scale. (...) 
- JUXTAPOZ Magazine 

@ Nuart Festival 2018

[ Dots : Candlelight_ candlelight on canvas_ 145x112 cm / 57×44 in, 2016 ]


A candlelight rally occurred, representative of South Korea’s culture of peaceful protests, following the first rally of November 2002. This was held to remember and seek the cause of Misun and Hyosun’s death; they died from the armored vehicle of US Armed Forces in Korea in June 2002. After the first rally, the public has expressed their opinion through candlelight whenever there is a national issue. Beginning in November 2016, a candlelight rally has started every Saturday, as a way to fight against the Park’s presidency on a national scale. Until December 2016, a total of seven rallies were held, and the accumulated participants were over 7.5 million. As the result, the National Assembly accepted the voices of the public, and President Park Geun-hye was impeached on December 9th, 2016. The seventh candlelight rally on the following day, December 10th, was held in the form of festival, celebrating the public’s first victory. JAZOO Yang progressed a work which records the public’s candlelight on the site. The public blackened or burned the surfaces of canvases, and left traces with candle drippings. This work, composed of the public’s candles rather than fingerprints, was an extension of the attempt from the ‘Dots’ works, which were progressed in Motgol, South Korea and St. Petersburg, Russia. It is for remembering and recording a specific moment.

@ Dots : Candlelight 2016

Dots:Shosse Revolustll 84

Street Art Museum (SAM), St. Petersburg, Russia, 2016 

Borders And Boundaries: A Multi-Disciplinary Exhibit 2016

Commissioned by Street Art Museum, Russia

Jazoo Yang’s Dots series originates from her work in her native Korea, in particular within areas of the city going through the process of redevelopment. Using traditional Korean ink, and solely using her thumbprint (a marking used as a signature on important documents), Yang’s work sought to bring focus on the increasing amount of “redevelopment refugees” in the city

For Crossing Borders / Crossing Boundaries, Yang has expanded her Dots Series to incorporate the issue of refugees and migrants in Europe and further beyond. Working mainly on her own but also with immigrant workers from the factory itself, Yang discusses their stories, their histories, their existence with these individuals as they mark the wall together. These imprints act as a record of this moment whilst remaining entirely silent.

In Yang’s Painting Block Works, this theme of memory and regeneration continues. Exploring the violent so central to the contemporary city, Yang wants to ask how much we perceive our lives and make independent decisions within these oppressive environments. She aims to bring these problems to the surface through rebuilding them with the materials we so readily abandon, in Korea using objects from deserted houses and buildings, here in Russia using the detritus and ephemera of the factory itself.

- Rafael Schacter ( Creative Director @ ApprovedbyPablo ), 2016

@ Dots:Shosse Revolustll 84,  2016