Site_Specific Land Art
THREE QUESTIONS interview with Wongil Jeon (South Korea)by Katty
2013 international invited artist
(Note from katty: Sometimes I ask three questions and then edit them into two, but Wongil gave such fascinating answers that I've left them as close as possible in their original form, with a bit of interpretative editing so that we as South Africans can understand his meaning. I hope I didn't lose too much in the translation Wongil – a truly wonderful set of answers, thank you.)
Q: You describe what you do as 'Nature Art'. What does this mean to you?
A: " 'Nature Art' happens when the artist and nature meet in a very direct manner, and 'Nature Art' disappears when the artist leaves from the place of nature in which the art took place. I wait until nature guides me to do something with it, and it then presents itself in what I then do. As an artist, therefore, I am simultaneously interacting and intervening with nature."
Q: As an artist you seem particularly focused on the relationship between yourself and nature, between your body and the resonating natural aspects it shares with it's natural environment. In our metropolitan centres people seem to lose touch with this aspect of themselves – what hope do you hold as an artist in bringing about a re-connection with our 'nature selves'?
A: "Nature is not like a repository of confidential documents. It has no wall barring access to it. It's door is wide, and always, open. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that we all see the real features of nature. Particularly to somebody who is easily caught up in the conventional and earthly joy of daily living, the wide open gate that leads us into nature, is barely noticed. Artists often discern some hidden aspect of nature which, in fact, is always there to apprehend by those who are willing to tap into the sensibilities inherent in human nature. And we can see that those art works embodying the great vitality of nature, result from what the artists have done to nature while exploring it in a private manner. My hope is always that the artists' work extends our imagination beyond the frame of our fixed recognition and ideas of nature."
Q: As artists we tend to engage with environments that are familiar to us, that offer some kind of control in terms of how we relate and situate our bodies within it. How important is it to travel and engage with environments that are foreign to our own experiences?
A: "I love to work in foreign environments separated from the familiar experience of my life back home. In foreign spaces I can hear something guide me towards a new gate of nature."
Media Release: 16 August 2013
Attention: Arts Editors and News Editors
Won-Gil Jeon shows more dimensions of nature
Plettenberg Bay. – Prominent Korean land artist Won-gil Jeon has produced an artwork from beach stones which carry the í░kiss mark of the oceaní▒ at the 2013 Site_Specific Land Art Biennale. The work encourages people to look at nature differently
Describing the creative process he followed before the official unveiling of the work on Friday afternoon, Jeon said he had sourced stones from the rocky part of the beach and broken them in half with a 3kg hammer. He then placed the stones in the water to allow the sea to í«markí» them, before he proceeded to paint this í«kiss markí» on the stones, using a simple white line.
Jeon said he placed the broken stones in a circle on a slope to connect the lines with each other. To him, the circle symbolises the connection between í«nature and natureí» and human beings and nature.
The work is a culmination of some of his earlier land art works where he also used a simple line to express his thoughts. í░For instance, in the past, I made a work where I put my finger in the water and drew a line onto a rock, which disappeared again in the sunshine. Another example is where I used fallen leaves to make very abstract and unexpected lines on the ground.í▒
Jeon said he enjoyed land art as it was conceptual and therefore served to expand peopleí»s minds. í░A number of people came past the site while I worked this week and asked what I was doing. The thing I enjoyed most was the í«A-Haí» moment they experienced once I explained what the work was about.í▒
í░Line is indeed a very useful and basic element to express the relationship between two things. In this work it implies that nature opens your eyes, you learn something more from it. Where you only saw stones or rocks in the past, you now see the marks the water is making on them.í▒
Interestingly, Jeon said he learnt something while making this work himself: í░When I started working, I was only breaking rocks. But as I went along, the í«openingí» of the rocks came to represent what nature reveals to us,í▒ he added.
Jeon believes the most interesting aspect of land art is that it can be practised by anybody. He feels the public should get involved in this art form to express their feelings toward nature. í░This is the wonder of contemporary art – if you have an idea, you can participate,í▒ he said.
Commenting on the temporary nature of land art which is often erased by natural elements such as an incoming tide, he said people frequently ask him how he earns money with land art. í░This is the way people think – that everything is about money. But although you caní»t escape capitalism, it is important to make one í«areaí» (space) in your life that is free of this notion,í▒ the artist affirmed.
í░It is very expensive to keep an artwork in your house -- but you can take this (land art) work away í«in your brainí». Our minds need an area which is free from that (capitalism), which helps us to retain our mental and spiritual freedom.í▒
He concluded that for this reason, he is grateful that art events such as the Site_Specific Land Art Biennale exist. í░Discovering things through nature makes me happy,í▒ he smiles.
Caption: Won-Gil Jeon paints the í░kiss markí»í» of the water on the rocks on site at the Site_Specific Land Art Biennale 2013. Photograph by Reney Warrington.
Caption: The broken rock and mark of the water in Won-Gil Jeoní»s work are both intended to connect people to nature. Photograph by Reney Warrington.
Issued by: Site_Specific.
Also see: http://sitespecific.org.za.and the Site_Specific Art Events Facebook Page: facebook.com/sitespecific.landart for more information on the event and participating artists.
Land Art Biennale Plettenberg Bay
Art South Africa
Won-Gil Jeon shows more dimensions of nature