Jin-me Yoon’s photographically based work centers around preoccupations with history, memory, language and cultural identity. Born in 1960 in Seoul, Korea, she immigrated to Vancouver, B.C. Canada in 1968. She has exhibited widely in Canada as well as internationally in the U.S., Korea, Japan, and Turkey. Yoon continues to live and work in Vancouver where she is Assistant Professor in the Visual Arts Area at Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts.
Director/Curator of Artspeak
May 31–June 29, 1996
Artspeak Gallery is pleased to present the work of Vancouver artist Jin-me Yoon. Imagining communities (bojagi), is part of an ongoing exploration which examines the relationship between the experience of cultural displacement and the construction of cultural identity. This gallery installation and internet project is an extension of the work, Screens (byongpung) which was especially made for the 1993 exhibition at the Queens Museum in New York entitled Across the Pacific: Contemporary Korean and Korean American Art. Across the Pacific then travelled to the Kumho Museum of Art in Seoul, Korea.
Originally proposed by the artist/activist group SEORO Korean Cultural Network, the exhibition had the potential to address the 150,000 Koreans who call Flushing, New York “home”. Given the specific exhibition context, Yoon privileges the mother-daughter relationship, that is her relationship to her mother by weaving together personal and social histories (from the Korean War to the 1990’s). Using everyday archival images such as the passport photograph and those found in family albums, Yoon questions the supposed realism of photographic images and points instead to the polysemic quality of photographic meaning.
Imagining communities uses the “bojagi” as an organising metaphor to address questions of audiences and communities while focusing on Korean diasporic women. A “bojagi” is a square piece of cloth, often made from scraps, used traditionally to cover food or wrap objects such as clothing, books and blankets. Unlike a suitcase, the bojagi changes shape depending on the object to be wrapped or carried. In the gallery installation, the folded screens are covered with delicate brightly coloured silk limiting the viewer’s access to the photographic images and written text in Korean. The lightboxes, which are similarly wrapped in silk, will be unwrapped displaying some of the on-line comments collected during the project at the closing reception Friday, June 28 at 8pm.
On the web site, photographs and text contained within the folded screens in the gallery are presented digitally as to privilege fragmentation and to suggest the complex non-linear process of memory. Yoon asks whether it is possible to create a provisional community of sorts on the internet when an audience, with a shared history of dispersal from a country dominated and partitioned by external powers, is geographically absent. By creating an on-line component, she expresses a yearning to tentatively gather a virtual audience and to project the possibilities of creating a community of Korean diasporic women.
Despite the implications of using the English language as well as the limitations concerning the issue of access to communication technology for different communities, Yoon desires through the words of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha: “to extract each fragment by each fragment from the word from the image another word another image the reply that will not repeat history in oblivion”. (Dictee)
Jin-me Yoon’s photographically based work centers around preoccupations with history,memory, language and cultural identity. Born in 1960 in Seoul, Korea, she immigrated to Vancouver, B.C. Canada in 1968. She has exhibited widely in Canada as well as internationally in the U.S., Korea, Japan, and Turkey. Yoon continues to live and work in Vancouver where she is Assistant Professor in the Visual Arts Area at Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts.
June 26, 1996
In conjunction with Yoon’s show “Imagining Communities” at Artspeak Gallery.