Library  Mixed media|dimension variable Installation at the Gervasuti Foundation, Venice, Italy (2009)  Photography: Daniele Nalesso

The library is a potent metaphor for knowledge that evokes images of organization, study, research and discovery. Libraries build relationships and connections and act as catalysts or laboratories for creative thoughts.

Chun’s project is inspired in part by Jorge Luis Borges’ celebrated text, ‘The Library of Babel’ that compares the library to the universe with the grand idea that it is a repository for all knowledge and every individual truth. The universe is governed by an order that we can perceive only partially yet it evokes ideas of the infinite and the eternal – like matter it is neither created nor destroyed – it just is.

The "Crimson Hexagon", in Borges’ library is a book containing universal knowledge that will invest its reader with a power akin to God. The only the problem is that this book cannot be found although it exists somewhere in the library. The librarian’s relentless search for the source of universal wisdom is somehow parallel to the human condition itself – a quest that will inevitably remain unfulfilled.   

Chun’s installation in a former artisan’s workshop of the Gervasuti Foundation is an imagined library space with bookshelves, desks, cabinets and other familiar devices - recognizable as symbols of secured and organized knowledge. Yet this archetypal image quickly dissolves to present a rich amalgam of strange and unclassifiable material.

Within this place where seemingly all knowledge resides, her project also focuses on the image of a library as a place of persistent search for elusive, unanswered questions - unsolved theories, unexplained narratives, incomplete quests and unresolved philosophical debates. The ‘bookshelves’ are intriguing anthropomorphic structures that appear to be ancient and worn out. The mysterious diverse objects they display represent a distillation of memories, accumulated information, ideas and interests – an ambiguous ever-growing and unbounded entity.  Chun ‘library books’ seem like ghosts, possessing a persistent force of memory that refuses to be forgotten, carrying histories, fictions, emotions and knowledge suspended in time.

Woojung Chun is  born in Seoul and now lives and works in Bristol, UK.
She utilises familiar devices and structures symbolising man’s conviction for knowledge and belief systems but creates entirely personal and fictional contents across various areas of philosophy, science and humanity in a somewhat anachronistic style, often using ubiquitous materials such as carved wood, etching, photography, ink drawings, in poetic combinations resulting in complex and enigmatic works. She presented an installation ‘Library’ as part of the 53rd Venice Biennale collateral events,  presented and supported by Arts Council Korea. She recently had solo exhibitions in Portugal and Norway. Her next solo exhibition is in London,  March 2011.

Woo jung Chun

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