books, contemporary art, installation art

Jukhee Kwon: Being @ La Scatola

June 23, 2012

Treehuggers may well like this show in which paper from books is shredded line by line to form a copse of six or seven arboreal candidates for the sentient term Being.

The pages now flow down from book shelves just underneath the ceiling. And you have to get within hugging distance to appreciate the painstaking quality of the work.

Breathe against them gently and the lines of prose rustle like leaves. The delicacy of this site specific work bestows an aura of great preciousness on each piece.

But these trees also whisper towards the opposite of the show’s title: knowing. After all, these volumes were once encyclopaedia and have now been rendered illegible.

If this is a choice we all have to make between ontology and epistemology, it is clear that Jukhee Kwon chooses the former, almost attacking the latter.

At the far end of the show is a pocket book which has been scraped clean of its ink. The residue now forms a dusty, but useless, booklike sculpture in its own right.

And with the coming of ebooks and tablets, Kwon’s show feels like a nail in the coffin of the printed word. If you want to live, don’t read. If you want knowledge, stay online.

Do not pluck it from a tree. This might not only be an original sin but also, given the density of text which streams through this exhibition, a growing impossibility.

Being can be seen at La Scatola Gallery, until August 10 2012. See gallery website for more details.

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