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Exhibition review: Trekking the Jeju JungleSeeing the island through young artists’ eyes
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승인 2017.02.02  09:11:23
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▲ Jungle by Hwa Jae-sun Photo courtesy Jia Min Tan

The Jeju Jungle exhibition is open for exploration through May. 7, 2017 at the Arario Museum Tapdong Bikeshop.

Four young Jeju artists concentrate on different meanings of the word “jungle” and portray a perception of Jeju far from what we usually know.

Lee So-jung, in her latest works “Mountain Walk 1” and “Mountain Walk 2”, shows her reinterpretations on shaped rulers.

Lines and shapes that look like rulers, as well as eyeballs and blades, form abstract pictures of seemingly self-generating images. Though not depicting anything in particular, Lee presents in symbolic forms the clues to the messages within her paintings.

Jwa Hae-sun’s oriental paintings on the second floor capture the images of daily life and domestic interiors, such as living rooms or kitchens. These familiar scenes are portrayed in a gloomy tone - the only source of light is from the window or from the refrigerator.

▲ Balance and Instability by Boo Ji-hyun Photo courtesy Jia Min Tan

The deliberate blur finish gives the pictures a surreal feeling, which achieves the artist’s intention of showing how home can be a shelter from society, as well as a cause of alienation from society. Disillusioned characters curl up on the floor or hide in a corner of the room, echoing the sentiments of many people living in the tangled undergrowth of urban settings.

On the third floor, Lee Da-seul’s digital pigment prints shows places in Jeju in which natural vegetation grows over man-made structures, forming “artificial natural” environments.

Walls and windows are overgrown with ivy, tree leaves, and climbers that grow through the other side of the nettings; cacti grow on a beach littered with bricks and cans.

The jungle that forms over time in places where man has touched is juxtaposed with the changing society of Jeju due to the influx of migrants and capital. All the works are titled “Ho. O. I”, which is the whistling sound that the sea women of Jeju make when they emerge from the water after diving.

Through the “Ho. O. I” project, Lee attempts to explore the current social situation and how we can cope with the changes.

▲ Ho. O. I by Lee Da-seul Photo by Jia Min Tan

The last artist is Boo Ji-hyun, who is known for using fish-lure lights in her installations to create fantastic marine-themed works.

“Balance & Instability”, located in the basement, submerges the visitor in a dark world only faintly lit by pale blue lights emanating from acrylic cylinders suspended from the ceiling.

Standing among the blue structures, with heightened senses amplifying the popping sounds from underneath the cylinders, you feel like you are standing in the midst of the ocean, on the very lip of the unknown. The feeling of anxiety is intentional and it reflects the kind of apprehension people live with in modern society.

Thanks to the rugged, concrete walls, the wide, empty halls, and the dreary-themed works, one feels as if they are in a dense jungle setting, devoid of life.

The environments that these artists take us through twist our image of Jeju. The island is gradually transforming into something more competitive - an unnatural selection based on survival of the richest.

Through the eyes of these young artists, we are compelled to rethink our preconceptions in order to confront the reality of this evolution.

The Arario Museum Tapdong Bikeshop is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are 12,000 won each.

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