Jin-me Yoon
October 30–November 29, 2008

This past exhibition at Catriona Jeffries Gallery presented new work by Jin-me Yoon. Yoon is known for photographic and performative video works in which the body as well as questions of identity and place figure prominently. In an ambitious new project, Yoon has produced two major multi-monitor and projection works, created in Korea and Japan.

Yoon’s new video works continue to engage a rigorous, conceptual approach and build upon her strong interests in history and the body, explored in past works such as Unbidden (2003-2004) and The dreaming collective knows no history (U.S Embassy to Japanese Embassy, Seoul) (2006), in which she enacts controlled, repetitive gestures marking particular sites and temporalities. Again moving close to the ground, in this installation Yoon inserts her body into the busy intersections and crowded markets of the urban landscape and the winding streets of a small town on a makeshift rolling device that fills the gallery with a constant rasping echo. However, rather than moving from one point to another as in The dreaming collective knows no history (U.S Embassy to Japanese Embassy, Seoul), this body passes through social and built environments, testing embodied horizontality through acts of endurance.

Yoon’s process of movement is circular and non-linear, connecting past, present and future – phantasmagorical insect-like movements that territorialize and topographically map small areas. Situated in the middle of busy locations, Yoon is often not noticed at the feet of bustling crowds, suggesting an illusion or dream-like presence in the spaces she passes through. Reflecting the vulnerable nature of the closeness of Yoon’s body in relation to the ground and the way in which the camera is positioned from above as if in surveillance, many of the monitors in the exhibition will be installed on the floor, calling attention to the viewer’s bipedal vertical presence. In contradistinction, a projection positioned high on the wall entitled As It Is Becoming (Seoul, Korea) inverts the verticality of the city and Yoon’s performance within it by flipping the image upside down, thereby disrupting the smooth flow of these urban spaces of production and consumption and evoking the slow and persistent movement of an animal or insect.

In As It Is Becoming (Beppu, Japan) Yoon explores specific sites that allude to the legacy of post-war Japan, such as a former U.S. army base that has now been converted into a park and an Atomic bomb treatment centre in an area known for its high concentration of underground healing hot springs. In Seoul, Korea, Yoon transverses the old cobble streets of a historic neighbourhood, the aisles of a shopping arcade, an entertainment district brightly lit with neon signs and a hyper-modern area for luxury goods. Yet, while Yoon’s interventions mark the particularities of these sites, they also speak to larger global shifts from traditional agrarian societies to urban living as well as the historical relationship between Japan and Korea and the multiple and contradictory associations that emerge from modernity and our present condition of accelerated globalization. In this new body of work Yoon bridges the tropes of performance and video through a deeper investigation into temporality and spatiality.

Documentation by SITE Photography.