‘Circle’ series is a self-reflective project and personal narrative inspired by negative emotional experiences and feelings that I faced in my childhood.
After my parents got divorced, I had to live with my aunt, Buddhist shaman who severed sculptures of a Buddha, a monk and a spirit of mountain surrounded with primitive and gorgers colors of the ritual paintings on the alter in her room. I was a little girl in this unstable environment, and these unfamiliar and shocking scenes horrified me. But on the other hand, the colors of the paintings and the figures of the sculptures left a big impression on my soul. Hidden in my world, in quiet and melancholy mood, I would adopt and replace different characters in the Korean fairy tales with myself and dream their lives to escape from reality. There was rarely clear separation between the real memories and distorted images under my delusion.
In this series, I bring the Korean folklore into my work and replace the fictional characters with myself. Those my emotional sentiments are projected onto various different characters from traditional Korean folk tales and legends based upon a simple dichotomy of good and evil with a clear-cut moral message that the good always wins. The personalities of the characters are reinterpreted from a subjective point of view. So their personalities are intentionally twisted and exaggerated. Now, these character-roles are transformed into self-portraits of myself, which brings out feelings that are drastically visualized.
Four different strategies are used to map my subjectivity and memory of the fictional characters: first, a direct but exaggerated empathy between a character and me. Second, an unnatural beatification of an evil character transformed as a psychological attempt in coping with the negativity itself. Third, an emphasis of extreme fear that amplified the latter’s vicious and immoral power. Last, a cynical figure of moral hypocrisy.
During the process, I have attempted to reconstruct chaotic visions and the heavy memories to vent out into a casual emotional experience, which any one can have in everyday life. In retrospect, I see it as a way of overcoming my traumatic experiences while also exploring and developing my own sense of self at the same time.
All images © Jung S Kim
By Jung S Kim