Sunwoo Jung

South Korea, 1991

Thesis: I poked the smoothness

Reconfigured chairs

Chairs are the most obvious and functional tools in everyday lives. I cannot help but engage with chairs, especially when they catch my attention as rejected items on the street. I started picking them up off the street, and after a while, several questions arose. Why had they been discarded? Where and how had they existed before? How long will their lifespan be? Where would these chairs have gone if I hadn’t picked them up? But also: who am I to give them an afterlife?

To examine these found objects more closely, I employed the method of “reverse engineering” to deconstruct the chairs in a systematic order. Sometimes I intuitively rearrange and re-establish clay elements according to my personal taste. Through my interventions, the chairs lose their functionality, and a new kind of sculpture comes into being. I even wonder if and how my reconfigured chairs will find a new “rationale” for a new existence.

One day I noticed that these reconfigured chairs resemble me in a way. Looking back on my life, I feel like I’ve always existed in some kind of liminal space. In relationships between people, I often act as a buffer or mediator who is on neither side and is trying to exist in the blurry, transitional zone in between. Every once in a while, I have a vision in which my body is in the real world, but my mind is outside of reality. I keep looking for a place to hide where I won't be exposed, afraid to be assigned to a fixed position. Yet, I constantly hesitate – in despair about my own position in society.

These artefacts are neither chairs nor sculptures. They are neither well-designed products nor great works of art. These are objects that seek to survive their in-between-ness. It might well be that my chairs constitute a self-portrait.