Julie Tolentino: The Flood, The Vessel, The Commune – how do we find each other? | Jesse Chun: 밤, 낮, 달, 비, Speaking in Tongues
3006 W 7th St #220 Los Angeles CA 90005
Saturday, May 25 at 3:00 PM 5:00 PM
Ends Jun 29, 2024
Commonwealth and Council presents 밤, 낮, 달, 비, Speaking in Tongues by Jesse Chun, the artist’s first solo presentation in Los Angeles. Chun's poetics in moving image, drawing, sculpture, and sound intimately ruminate on language and its interdimensional translations. Fracturing the dominant compositions of legibility, Chun unfixes language from its semantic, social, and hierarchical structures in a process she calls “unlanguaging.” Taking the found grammars of power within linguistics, particularly of the Anglophonic as a site for rupture and abstraction, Chun conjures a new material vocabulary that interweaves the diasporic and familial, drawing from Korean folk and shamanic traditions of communication. Chun’s visual and sonic abstractions invoke alternate semiotics and cosmologies of meaning, time, and the untranslatable. Two moving image sculptures titled 시:sea(2565) and 시:sea(2567) face each other in the gallery space. Each is comprised of a black-and-white single-channel projection, activated with mirrors and rocks, featuring the artist’s diaristic video fragments and notes on language. 시, meaning “poetry” in Korean, can be mistranslated as “sea” in English when pronounced phonetically. Engaging with mistranslation as an active poetic form, Chun’s moving images refuse clarity and linear narrative, instead offering abstract textual portals and spatial poems. In 시:concrete poems, Chun creates her own asemic writing through a laborious, time-based material meditation. She interprets the Korean shamanic tradition of paper cutting (설위설경), used to create talismans and to communicate across other worlds, by repeatedly drawing graphite lines on hanji (Korean mulberry paper) and meticulously cutting her own abstract language patterns by hand. This process is also inspired by Chun’s late grandmother, a former Korean folk dancer and Buddhist monk who exposed the artist to writing as a metaphysical 수행 practice. The works reflect on embodied enunciations made through gaps, shadows, and time. At the center of the gallery, the artist displays a suspended sculptural drawing installation titled score for unlanguaging (천지문 and cosmos, no.042423). The work contains an invisible circle materializing the unseen and unspoken. The drawings are made using a Roman alphabet stencil—not to write English—but rather to map new constellations in a technique which actively decenters the world’s most dominant language. The installation as a whole is activated through a sound work titled nocturne no.042423: score for unlanguaging (천지문 and cosmos) composed by Chun and Korean folk performance artists Yeonhee (Kim Hyangsooree and Ahn Yoohee). The score brings to life a Korean folk sound reinterpreted into sonic abstraction, building itself by weaving together a series of fragmented utterances, voices, breaths, and communings much in the way Chun herself works with language: unraveling so that it may reconstruct as a new constellation, sacred and impure, summoning polyphonic mutations, non-linear passages, and scores for new cosmos. Jesse Chun (b. 1984, Seoul; lives and works in Seoul and New York) received an MFA from School of Visual Arts (2014) and BFA from Parsons School of Design (2007). Solo exhibitions have been held at the Seoul Museum of Art (2023); 1708 Gallery, Richmond (2018); and Spencer Brownstone Gallery, New York (2016). Selected group exhibitions have been held at Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles (2024); Art Sonje Center, Seoul (2024); Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco (2023); De Appel, Amsterdam (2023); Ballroom Marfa (2023); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2023); Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (2021); SculptureCenter, Queens (2020); Nam June Paik Art Center, Seoul (2020); The Drawing Center, New York (2019); and Queens Museum (2018). Chun is a recipient of Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant (2020) and Triple Canopy Commission Award (2020). Chun has participated in residencies at National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2024); the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship at ISCP, New York (2019), and The Drawing Center Open Sessions Fellowship (2018). Chun’s work is in the collections of Kadist Art Foundation; Museum of Modern Art Library, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art Library, New York; Seoul Museum of Art; and Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. All images courtesy of the artist and Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, Mexico City. Detail view, Jesse Chun 시sea(2567), 2024
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