Artist: Jazoo Yang
Jazoo Yang is a Korean mixed media artist whose work often distorts public spaces to profound ends. With a mixture of concept-focused art and an interesting visual style, Yang’s work questions the relationship between ourselves and the spaces we inhabit. Her latest work, Dots: Motgol 66 is a continuation of this idea.
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.