12 Jan 2023 — 11 Feb 2023
Dasom Park, Choulgue Jung
Drive / Later, later, later,

Is it possible? A wholesome drive without depression? Park Dasom wrote a scenario more than a decade ago. It was a story of three sisters born roughly a decade apart?in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. The eldest declared she would not go visit her mother’s gravestone, and the other two sisters are indignant over it. That scenario gradually developed over a decade and became the video work . In it, there are no images of their cherished mother or direct relation to a passing. Instead, there are three sisters in conversation, as they are moving somewhere on an automobile. During the exchange of conversation, wrinkly-aged doll versions of the sisters interject. Those doll-bodies presuppose a perspective, a point of view that is observing the sister’s aging bodies. The gaze itself, however, feels glum, down-cast. The upbeat music is barely holding up the heavy curtains of depression from falling entirely. This drive is whole(some) as an intentional experience of depression.

by Park Dasom is about curvature and the body. She trusts what transpires between her actions and unpredictable consequences. What she doesn’t believe in is a priori?a defined and expected result that can be expected without actually having observed it. And to counter, the actions that lead to unexpected outcomes are wholesome and pure in some way, as it inspires trust. Firm strength lies in seemingly loose relationships rather than the more surface-hardened ones. It is more persuasive, in other words. The curvatures and the body in the context of this exhibition are both keywords that mark Park’s trust and faith in such loosely defined relationships. Those ideas have been given form along the rising and falling curves of the roller-coaster tracks and the deepening crevices between wrinkles of an aging body.

Park Dasom has been exploring the human physicality, from the two paintings and , which segue into the paraboloid curvature of the roller-coaster tracks. The roller coaster tracks oscillate with the lurching inertia of gravity, superimposed with the aged, deteriorated, and wrinkled body?tracing the passage of time. Park would often gaze upon bodies worn out, tired, and spent. She connected those sights with sadness and depression, and sought it root cause. At its very foundation, she found two: time and gravity. In that case, the creases and wrinkles are not necessarily caused by emotional burden. Things irrelevant to the reality of emotions are beyond human control, and the body is transformed into an unemotional substrate to the expression of creases and wrinkles. From that perspective, Park looked at aged physical states with the driest of eyes and the roller-coaster’s undulating curves became a means to emulate the wrinkled and creased form of the body. That is, a means to understand the physicality of wrinkles as-is, separate from the emotional elements associated with a broken body.

Pareidolia is a part of Park Dasom’s visual creations. The eyes, nostrils, and mouth can be seen in the curves of the roller-coaster tracks, as if brought to life, possibly. Her work starts by tearing paper and ends by drawing cracks. For a moment, she sets aside the a priori things such as knowledge systems and rules of visual representation and searches for something honest and natural under the human touch. Follow the drawn path and some things appear before the gaze. Paper torn along its grain, imagined or informed forms, cracked surfaces appear before the gaze. Paper, not being cloth, is specifically for tearing, perhaps? The partitioned atmospheric spaces are perhaps forms that wished for paper to fill, and the green paper tape adhered to fix the paper to the wall perhaps wished to be in-frame. The crack running down the center is in that form, because it was conjured by the image itself, to be a painting. The form of the face which remained to the end prove that there is presence in process, of the will to create everything in the form of man (or woman, or personhood).

A wholesome drive is accompanied by melancholy, as if by mandate. Like the crack down the painting, plays upbeat music. In it, mother’s death and the wrinkles of the three sisters reach a point of utter gloom. The major-chord melody plays over it like a jarring rift that opens a drier and colder gaze that looks at their conversation and wrinkles, to add time and gravity to them. As the paper tears, as the form draws itself, and as the gaze scans the surface, what consists the painting and not the artist exerts its will over the perspective of the artist’s work. Is this surrender of one’s will to the will of the universe, or the positioning of will inside the painting itself? As the crack exists as the fracture that is not part of the whole, Park Dasom’s drive is where depression exists to be hidden.

Later, Later, Later is a solo exhibition by Jung Choulgue, a metaphor on the emotional and situational encounters that come with the human experience of loving the other. Set in northern Italy in 1983, film Call Me by Your Name (2017) follows the romantic relationship between Elio and Oliver. Oliver is a graduate-student assistant to Elio's father who is a professor, who spends the summer vacation with professor’s family (and Elio) before returning to the United States at the end of summer. Young Elio is smitten by Oliver, but at the end of summer, Oliver departs without his usual “later”, reserving themselves of vain promises. The graduate student understood the reality of love that would not be fulfilled. In that silence, Elio grasps that whatever was, would no longer be. Even if Oliver departed with a vague customary “later”, Elio would have accepted it as a token of faith, of a possible future encountered together, and Oliver would have propositioned it as a deferred future together?ultimately a parting salutation. There is nothing more romantic and painfully cruel than love, later.

Jung’s solo exhibition is on the theme of love, not of philanthropy, altruism, or familial fashion, but a kind of love that is in search of, and empty in the shape of, a specific other. No person can be completely free from it. Every person encounters it in their own way. To some, love may come easy, or laden-free of burden. To some, it may seem entirely elusive while even others may have seen it come and gone. Jung Choulgue believes that ‘impossibility and imperfection are part and parcel to love’. As lovers, we simply meet, bid farewell, long for more, then reject love. And that trajectory seems to repeat and extend forever in some iterative, circular fashion, as an integral part of the human experience. That is, an experience that Jung believes can be translated visually in an exhibition.

Love was there in 2010, as the theme to the artist’s first solo exhibition. There, Jung addressed the lingering moments that follow puppy-love, and the disappointment of becoming unfamiliar with a person. His first offering was in painting only, but he soon expanded his practice to needle-and-thread, as well as sculptures and installations. His presentations forego the abstraction-via-singular-screen. Instead, he adds finer detail to a singular theme by approaching it from multiple media. As such, his exhibitions are often composed of fragmented ideas structured and ordered under an overarching theme. Those ideas may take form as rocks, potted plants, and fabrics, or be less tangible as text from prose or poetry. Soft-spoken over many occasions is more effective than a singular resonating voice that booms only once, according to Jung. This threading of voices resembling a harmonious melody that spreads across a musical score, bound together by some unseen rule.

This latest exhibition consists of four works. When we love someone, our attention becomes focused on them, and we become more observant of their words and actions. We learn more about them that way, and for the theatrically gifted, this learning can include mimicry of those very words and actions. is a painted work that grows resemblance to the exhibition hall windows and the scenery outside. Almost like a reflection of the other, but unable to completely collapse into one, forcing mimicry into the next best bet. Between the canvas and the window are different seasons, the canvas being the obvious mimic. And yes, we stumble after the one we wish to know better and resemble, but they are always out of reach, having fluidly moved positions. is a work which includes two stick (or rod) pieces, one horizontal and the other vertical, holding a ball in-between. There is tense balance between the two stick-pieces chopstick-holding the ball and the viscerally tangible sense of slipping its grip and dropping it through. On the floor, is a different situation, where the stick is supported by two balls. Jung has set the table for how viewers might choose to experience the painting. Whether that experience leads to a happy ending with love, is entirely the choice of the viewers. is a work of differently-patterned fabrics connected by thin threading. Each fabric looks uniquely different to others, but they scratch each other’s backs and seek unity among the different. is a work where the cutting-mat is a talking-person and the frame is an unlistening-person. The cutting-mat requires a sturdy frame capable of supporting the mat’s lack of structural integrity, but the frame seems reticent and unwilling. In truth, for the frame, anything would do. And for the cutting-mat, an added frame does not mean improved function of its original purpose. However, he seems not to have come to terms with this rigid and unforgiving reality.

The artist’s presented works iterate on the idea of two separate things that are paired but cannot become both one and whole. Jung’s work casting the question of true love also did not define love in a singular form. The four presented works merely exist separately, each with its own situation. Although they are parts that seek to be whole, the artist hopes for each to be beautiful and come as they are. Faith in an existence of perfect love, seeking it to the repeated disappointment and detriment of imperfect love, is perhaps what causes love to fail. This situation urgent yet tender situation where two face an unbridgeable gap is an apt representation of love.

Perfect love, like anything which claims to be perfect, leads to the question of its definition. And traditionally, this perfectly formed love story (whether by waking will or the subconscious) has featured a man and a woman who meet, fall in love and marry, have children and live as a family. Jung Choulgue’s works reflect his identity which has disallowed him of such perfect and wholesome love that the broader society has come to expect. His thematic lingering on love for such an extended period of time, and his great attention for the life of the other, has both been to ask: ‘who are you/they to look at us in that way?’ “Who can claim oneself better than love, regardless of sex, age, ethnicity, and identity? None.” Says Jung. We all try our best to strike out with our best foot forward, but all that is just mediocrity in the practice of love. Jung wants his works to reflect something back to the gaze beholding it. Much like a mirror?the looking glass?where people experience their own reflection, and not the panel-shaped furniture itself. He has strong belief that allowing the viewing gaze to identify their own stories reflecting back at them would be a way of finding acceptance as part of us. And he is a present believer, not later.