Friday, February 19, 2010

Speakeasy with ... Gyun Hur

Posted By on Fri, Feb 19, 2010 at 6:52 PM

click to enlarge Gyun Hur
  • Gyun Hur

For a show named repose, Gyun Hur's solo installation at Get This! Gallery certainly does send a zing! through the space. Inspired by her mother's wedding blanket, and constructed from tediously chopped silk cemetery flowers, Hur simultaneously explores celebration, mourning and rebirth. Hur will give an artist talk at the gallery tomorrow, Sat., Feb. 20, from 1-2 p.m. during the Westside Arts District third Saturday art walk. In person, Hur is as bright and engaging as her work, so make sure to stop by for a listen.

Would you talk about conceptualizing the idea of the exhibit and discuss the process of creating it?

I was dealing a lot with the idea of loss and how to approach that idea of loss and also the memory of the past. All of those things were always kind of a part of my work. So one of the items that I found in my house was my mother’s wedding blanket. I just put it in my car and brought it to my studio and it was there for a few months and I just kept looking at it. It looked just like this [points to the floor at the exhibit’s central piece] and there's white borders. And I kept looking at it and looking at it and one day just put it on a raw floor and it looked so beautiful. It just resonated with me so much about that comfort and loss and the things that are known and the privacy — it combined so much of what I was trying to talk about. That image was so vivid and powerful at the time, and I just wanted to do something about it. In the meantime time I was collecting discarded cemetery flowers with the permission from the cemetery. When they get blown away by the wind they just have to clean them up. So I decided to collect these flowers and the colors matched and I was like, “Oh my goodness!”

At the time I was studying materials and also my interest in obsessive behaviors and those kind of behaviors that come from some kind of trauma. All these things kind of started coming together so I started literally deconstructing and obsessively just kind of shredding these flowers by colors and then replicating this wedding blanket. I just thought it would tell everything that I wanted to tell.

Where does your interest in the psychology of obsessive behaviors come from?

That was my whole thesis. I think younger artists, we try to kind of find out where we come from and what it is that makes us try to be an artist. For me, I think personally just a lot of my personal narratives kind of became a huge part of my work so kind of my childhood traumas and memories and losses that I could not resolve for myself really manifest in the art. One of the things that i think is really exciting about this show is I really felt like after the thesis the work has taken on its own life. It decided to become bigger than what I wanted to say.

How does the video complement the show?

When I started cutting, like one and a half, two years ago, so many people were commenting on the sound. That was always a huge part of my work I knew, and I just really wanted to capture that but didn't really know how. So for the preparation of the show, there was so much cutting I just couldn’t do it by myself, so the family business kind of came down to my basement. As we were cutting together there were so many beautiful moments, I thought it was so essential for people to get to understand how this came about.

As much as I talk about memory and loses, I cannot get way from the cultural context: I am a Korean American and I did immigrate and I am the daughter of immigrant parents. … Instead of being in your face, like I am an Asian American ... the music is there and the interaction is there and the history is there. I thought about putting the translations, then I thought, it's not needed. Much in the same way that my parents have to encounter the world here without any kind of translation, I’m kind of reversing that process and presenting what really happens within the family in the context of this gallery. It's my favorite part. It’s so simple and it was done with such spontaneity, but it just worked so well.

How long is the video?

It's only 50 minutes. It was one of the nights and I just kind of did it. … My dad is like drinking a beer and we were talking about all kinds of gossip of my mom's friends' kids, so for me I look at it and I can't get over how much it holds. My mom and dad started to take new sort of ownership with the work as well. It’s my mom's wedding blanket and I didn't know how to explain the work to them at first. Then my mom was like, “Explain it to me. I want to know — we're helping you.” She really, really wanted to know, so I started to communicate in her language and her point of view of what this kind of work was about and she started to tell the story about her wedding blanket, which I didn't know. It was a story I would’ve never known. She invited her friends, and having that kind of community come, and having that kind of visual cues and cultural cues to click with them was just kind of an amazing part of my experience here.

Do you plan to expand on this show in the future?

For me, to really take this pattern as my own at that time with my thesis, I thought I was referencing and borrowing from my mother, and now it has really become kind of my own language, so I'm really excited about what I can do with that. The process of the installation and preparation was so long — the cutting itself about 500 hours, not just me but about three people every day; the installation took about eight or nine days. It's a long process and I think the process is a huge part of my approach to the work anyways. … I need to make sure I take care of my body. … I really want to expand the project, but it's going to have to take some strategies — possibly me learning how to be an organizer — because I know that this is not possible without other people’s help.

When it comes time to break down the show, what will you do with all of these pieces?

I have to save them, so I have the jar and Ziploc bags where all the colors are labeled, so I’m going to have to collect them again. I know that the monks who do a very similar ritual, they do this intricate pattern in the floor and then they just kind of get blown away by the wind. A few people have approached me to say how powerful that image was and I'm like, I’m saving mine! [laughs].

(Photos courtesy

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