Kyung Hwa Shon
Stillman: The Surface of the City and the Depths of the Psyche
Stillman: The Surface of the City and the Depths of the Psyche offers an attempt to grasp not only a way of thinking about city space but also a new way of conceptualizing a subjective vantage point for this process. This practice-led research project aims to question the subject-object dualism, in order to explore a third space (between absence and presence, between the invisible and the visible, between subject and object) and the potentiality of a new figure, which is a ghost-like entity called ‘Stillman’.
‘Stillman’ is a ‘figure-being’ that implies significance both to the process of writing and art practice. Such a non-indexical character goes beyond the notion of a discreet subject. It is neither fixed by time, visibility or by embodiment along the lines of gender. Within the attributes of such a spectral character, the usual type of procedure whereby knowing and recognition occur is radically displaced. This then is effecting a doubled displacement for we cannot be certain about either the designation of either objects or places or subjective perception. My impulse has been to introduce both stitching (actual) and switching (virtual) operations that create new space (a third space) of encounter in which entities might create reconfigured modes of designation. This implies a new mobility of perception on all levels, thus everything is animated and on the move. On one level this might ordinarily imply a theory of the fragment in conjunction to a de-centered notion of the subject, but I wish to make a step beyond this in order to challenge the very process by which we might begin to suppose a constitution of knowability, or at least an order of representation.
In my research, the concept of the city is not based on the unitary pragmatics of the urban planner or architect’s drawing board, but one related to the disjointed mode of dwelling to be found in the recesses of imaginative projections of the aesthetic becoming. With the alternating rhythm of rupture and suture, the surface of the city and the depths of the psyche occur as a folded rhythm within my conception of urban space, which oscillates between fiction and reality or actuality and virtuality. The project focuses on the moment of aesthetic shock or de-familiarization arising in the context of the city of glass. As such, the condition of the unsettling that is embedded in the nature of ‘Stillman’ and the city of glass is revealed in art practice and writing, which together include fragments and non-casual factors. In attempting to understand the spaces of the in-between, the actual materiality and with it the sign economy of the city starts to recede as a source of representation and in the wake of this dissolution various trace elements of glass, mirrors and specters hover within the half light of perception. This process of condensation runs parallel to my aesthetic modes of presentation. On a concrete theoretical level I have examined the dynamic of absence and presence, the idea of spectrality, the development of montage, Far Eastern aesthetics and the idea of emptiness, theories of temporality and the image, and the play of the poetic and philosophic.
School of Arts & Humanities
Kyung Hwa Shon explores the reciprocal relation between a city and the imagination through the eyes of a phantom, ‘Stillman’. For her, this imaginary character, ‘Stillman’ is the eruption of a sudden and strange image appearing on the blink of its own vanishing and as such stands in the very moment of the annihilation of the concrete individual. Tracing the movements of ‘Stillman’ makes the city become an enormous, surreal, even theatrical-like space in which a sense of otherness starts to emerge. She focuses on the instant moment of the unanticipated experiences that are encountered in the everyday, as they are significant factors to unfold into extensions of imagination; oscillating in turn between fiction and reality.
The myriad ambiguous signs and letters in the street and fragmented specular images on shop-window displays are, for her, crucial elements in creating peculiar relationships with the world of things, implying the emergence of the imagination. Through these elements, the infinite boundary of the imagination unleashes the city as unaccustomed, disoriented, and reencountered. Her art practice focuses on the rediscovery of psychological heteromorphic identification, the presence of invisible substance, and fantastic visual experiences emanating from serendipitous moments of glitch in the city. The work implies the opening of the urban landscape to a distinct poetics of the city in which mythology, sign, symbol, voice, text, and trace occurs.
- MFA. Painting and Drawing, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 2011; BFA. Painting, Hong-Ik University, Seoul, 2008; BFA. École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Exchange Programme, Paris, 2007
- SWAP: UK/Ukraine Artist Residency Programme, British Council & Liverpool Biennale, 2017; Visiting Artist, Pure Print Elements, University of Porto, Porto, 2015; The Starr Scholar, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2012
- Every Second in Between, White City Public art commission project in partnership with Stanhope and Royal College of Art, London, 2018; WONDER CITY, Sehwa Museum, Seoul, 2018; Should I Put Sunglasses On?, YermilovCentre, Kharkiv, 2017; A Space of the 'In-Between': Word, Time, Image, Kumho Museum of Art, Seoul, 2017; The Ships Are Always There, Crate Project Space, Chiara Williams Contemporary Art, Margate, 2017; Stars of Stars, Gyeongnam Art Museum, Changwon, 2017; Contemporary Visions VII, Beers London Gallery, London, 2017; The Snapdragons, collaboration with Cultural Traffic, Artsvit Gallery, YermilovCentre, Dnipro, Kharkiv, 2017; WW Solo Award: The City of Fragments, WW Contemporary Art, London Art Fair, London, 2016; The Surface of The City and The Depth of The Psyche, Alternative Space Loop, 2016; Paper | Publication | Performance, Lychee One Gallery, London, 2016; UK/RAINE : Emerging Artists from the UK and Ukraine, Saatchi Gallery, London, 2015; Uncovered Invisible Remnants, University of Porto, Porto, 2015; The Faces of SeongNam_City樂, Seongnam Arts Centre, Seongnam, Korea, 2015; You never look at me from the place which I see you, Blyth Gallery, Imperial College, London, 2015; 22 Into Drawing; Psychogeographic Contemporary Abstract Landscapes, Seoul Olympic Museum of Art (SOMA), Seoul, 2013; Take Old Road New Way, Korean Cultural Service New York, New York, 2013; Psychogeographic Abstract Landscapes In London, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2012; Silhouette of the London Landscape, Royal Academy Schools, London, 2012; NOW X HERE, Korean Cultural Centre UK, London, 2012
- Every Second In Between, White City Public Art Commission Project Artist, 2018; Winner for Kumho Museum of Art (Young Artist), Korea, 2016; Winner for WW SOLO AWARD 2015, UK, 2015; Finalist for UK/RAINE Art Prize, Saatchi Gallery & Firtash Foundation, UK & Ukraine, 2015; Winner for Alternative Space Loop Art Prize, Korea, 2015; Collaboration with Paul Hedge and Hales Gallery & Drake’s, Pocket square design, UK, 2014; Winner for Seoul Olympic Museum of Art (SOMA) Drawing Prize, Seoul, Korea, 2012; The Starr Foundation Scholarship, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK, 2012
- Eve Watling, “Every Second in Between: Public Art Coming to White City”, White Noise, 2018; Interview with OTB TV channel, “Your morning”, Kharkiv, Ukaine, 2018; Valeriya Rudenko, “Perceived identities: to have or to be: residence in the YermilovCentre”, FAQindecor, 2017; Hana Yoon, “A City of Flâneur Looking for a Ghost”, CNB (July), Exhibition Review, p.51-53, 2016; India Irving, “ArtAttack Interviews Korean artist, Kyung Hwa Shon”, ArtAttack, 2016; Liza Premiyak, “Raw talent : Ten emerging artists from UK and Ukraine”, The Calvert Journal, 2015