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Evoking traces

Heeseung Koh



Wood, 18K gold, sterling silver, copper, enamel, fossil, paint, cornelian, fabric, silicon string, leather string, Teak, iron wire

For a long time, I have captured all manner of objects on city streets with my camera. They could be ordinary things such as electric poles or manhole covers embedded firmly in the surface of roads, rubbish heaps piled up seemingly untidily but having their own sense of order, walls covered with innumerable tape marks, peeling paint revealing a rusty underbelly, bricks stacked tightly, and signs warning to keep away.

The objects on the streets are very strong and firm, however they have traces of damage due to rain and wind, and undefined causes have broken them down. Although the marks sometimes look like badly-healed scars, they become attractive as the fabric of a city. These urban objects constantly form unexpected relationships between intentional or unintentional breakages and permanent or makeshift repairs, with the result that they are reborn with fresh looks every day.

My works begin with the scenario of ‘plugging a hole, thrusting into it or inserting something in it’. Before planning completed images, I make a hole of a determined size in a wooden board, and then consider the subsequent stage of my work. What can I block up this hole with? Which way is most suitable? To what extent should I fill it in? I then select one of many objects which I have already made and try to apply them endlessly to the hole, and consequently a relationship between the hole and the object is discovered. Finally, I consider how I should arrange the object to fit into the hole, whether I should choose rivets, strings, or other matter, and also if I should find another way to attach it. I am willing to show the trace of the attachment without concealment. Therefore, the front and back sides of a brooch do not exist separately. A structure piercing through both sides or overlaying them should be created and fixed to link them, and then it remains as a decorative element.

The procedure is natural and unconscious, and I think it is similar to the process all objects undergo in their unchanged or changing state or the traces they leave on the streets. All is not deliberated in advance however inevitably it has already been decided that objects find their way to their given home. My thinking hands do continue to make changes during the process, and the meeting and parting of objects are repeated. And eventually, they settle down and find their places.

Looking at barricades and the objects they surrounded, my sentiment is it is not important to distinguish between the stage and the main character. In my brooches, small screws or pieces of plastic are treated as if they are precious jewels, and it is hard to classify which is a piece of copper pipe or a pure gold ring in a box from an unfamiliar environment. The objects that constitute my jewelry are various in appearance and they are related to other incorporated elements unexpectedly. They only hold different value and meaning when they are placed in different situations.

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