Pieces of the Night by Kunyoung Chang (Korea)

Pieces of the Night

Kunyoung Chang (Republic of Korea)

28 May 2014, INSTINC SOHO

Text by Lim Jia Ning Michelle

Comprising painting, projection, artist books and collage, Kunyoung Chang's repertoire at INSTINC may seem like a chaos of multiples, interactivity, and medium diversity. Yet, the show nonetheless exudes a meditative sense of order, and invites us to ruminate on the nature of life and human relationships.

Two particular works stand out in terms of their depth of meaning and rigour in construction:

Singapore Treasure Hunt

"Singapore Treasure Hunt" chronicles Chang's stay in Singapore through the trash that she picks up on our streets. Cup lids, spectacle cloths, severed zip ties – all are fair game as Chang constructs a new life for these cast-offs. Trash becomes raw material in her pared-down collage compositions.

The work exists in two forms. One is as an artist book. Another presents the compositions as a slide show projection in tandem with several small paintings on gessoed wooden panels. Entitled "Once They Were", this amalgamation greets viewers as they walk through the door. The pale, irregular forms in the paintings complement the disparate assemblages that flit briskly across the projection screen.

Intangible and ephemeral, the medium of projection refers back to the disposability of the raw materials' past lives as trash. Meanwhile, the paintings themselves are beautiful ghosts of absent forms, derived by laying dampened scraps of dyed paper onto wooden panels and then peeling them off. Loose thoughts of loss and dispersal spring to mind as one contemplates this mixed media work.

Zero Book

Bold in its simplicity, the apparent light-handedness in Chang's work is in fact born from discipline. "Zero Book" is a meticulously crafted book that utilises the Jacob's Ladder book-binding technique to flit endlessly between two phrases from Buddhist scriptures. Each phrase of the couplet, "Those who meet must part/ Those who part must meet again" is written on either side of the book in traditional Chinese seal script.

As one plays with the book, one cycles through the couplet over and over. We encounter the pain of parting and the reassurance of reunion time and again, until we come to terms with its inevitability. The piece is elegant in its asceticism – its beauty is in the understated grace with which all things extraneous are peeled away, such that only the essential remain.

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