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The Accumulation, Interruption and Suspension of Memory in Yunsook Park’s Work
Shim Chung
Assistant Professor of Art History, Fashion Institute of Technology

Yunsook Park has created a unique series of collages based on New York’s Instant Lotto tickets. Kitsch-like abandoned lottery tickets that the artist picked up throughout the five boroughs of New York City have been painstakingly and seamlessly glued onto canvas in the form of numbers and lucky symbols, such as four-leaf clovers and stars, with titles such as Straight 8’s, Amazing 8’s, and Lucky Green 7’s, auspicious numbers and signs in the lottery. Both pictorial and graphical, abstract and representational, Park’s oeuvres seem to accumulate her own memory as an observer and participant in American immigrant culture, which the lottery tickets signify.

The meticulously cut and pasted lottery tickets consist of the repetition of her gestures, negotiating between the nonrepresentational lyrical space of emotions and the banal world of the lottery. This gesture is rather performative and meditative because the very accumulation leads to the constant negotiation of two different worlds (Korean and American), as well as high and low art forms. In other words, the artist erases the dichotomy of two opposing elements, employing her own conceptual strategy of mediating. The negation of the background as abstraction and the foreground collage therefore merge in her modernist quest of abstraction with the ubiquitous objects. The optical illusion of the canvas is both played and interrupted by the collage, thus resulting in making her work super-flattened. The decorative ornamental patterns that she derives from the lottery represented in Winter Green 7’s elucidate the vibrant link between word and image.

The inherent Pop culture and its inverted use are also apparent in Park’s series of Repeated Definition-01 (Sinead O’Connor) of 2007 and Repeated Definition-01 (Man and Woman)of 2008, made with works purchased on eBay. The former even carries the original signature as a parody of authenticity. The artist then conceptually added to the work “Not for Individual Sale” and “Forbidden,” written in Korean, intentionally framing these almost abandoned original works, by professional artists, on diptychs or folding-screens. Rather than embracing the seemingly commercial and Warholian effect and glamour, the artist again “interrupts” these silkscreen-like paintings and suspends the memory of the culture not only for herself but for the viewer.

The suspension is finally extended to her BEST IF series in which the artist renders the artwork void as a commodity by inserting an expiration date. In fact the gesture of the interruption is targeted for the value of commodities including artworks, because the date reflects the date of Park’s completion.* A series of gestures of interruptions are pervasive in her recent endeavors of taking up both abstract form and banal everyday life. Subsequently, our own myths concerning our memory and our experiences-the lottery, daily commodities and abundant information-are also suspended.

* The words “interruption” and “suspension” of myth are derived from Jean-Luc Nancy’s article “Interrupted myth” in The Operative Community (La Communauté désœuvrée, 1982).

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