MAstars 2010: So Young Jung, MA Fine Art

MAstars 2010: So Young Jung, MA Fine Art So Young Jung, A cup of coffee, 2010. Laptop, headphone, formboard box. 29cm x 32cm x 32cm. Credit: So Young Jung

Sarah Brown selects So Young Jung from Nottingham Trent University for MAstars

A fascination with individual memory, story-telling and evocative objects characterises So Young Jung's work. She combines film, sound and objects to investigate the theme of personal and collective memory. 

For her final MA Fine Art show at Nottingham Trent University, Jung presents three small doll's-house size rooms containing miniature objects. Each one is placed on a plinth and invites the viewer to examine closely the detailed objects and scenes. The three rooms with different interiors set the scene for a moment frozen in time that is accompanied by a short recounted memory listened to on headphones. We are told three very personal and tragic stories. The miniature scale of the rooms heightens the sense of awkwardness and intimacy. A picture window in each room plays a short film of a road journey that relates to the scene, moment and personal story.

The significance of the road journey as a dramatic device that offers movement and change sheds light on the still, static, frozen moment in each interior. The exterior landscape makes the viewer question their relationship with the interior spaces and objects in the rooms. The external moving dimension and obvious journey contrasts with the intimate, detailed and static interior.

The first scene tells of a friend's grandmother who would make a cup of tea each day at one o'clock for her husband. Since he has passed away, she continues to do so. The table is set for tea, the clock stands still at one and an English homely interior sets the scene for the film that runs. It plays a road journey in reverse and alludes to time standing still and not moving forward. The touching and sad story is enticing, with the miniature, detailed paintings on the wall and blue crockery.

There is a knowing tension between the beautifully detailed objects in the rooms and their obvious hand-made quality. A theatrical element belies the artist's honesty in presentation and no attempt has been made to hide the workings of the rooms, as they sit directly on computers. The calm and stillness is underpinned by a tragic drama and the artist's sensitivity to the range of emotions and memories that are activated by the combined elements of the installation.

The second room contains the personal and tragic story of a best friend who committed suicide and left no clues as to why. We are told she was lonely and had not finished her cup of coffee that she loved so much. This work gives Jung's show its title, Cup of coffee, and it is this moment or clue that is at the heart of Jung's work. The process of remembering and sharing can be seen as beneficial and therapeutic both to the artist and the viewer.

It is the trivial 'cup of coffee' and commonplace moments in life that we are left with and draw upon to make sense of the world. The familiar daily habits connect the three stories and the theatrical quality of the scenes contrasts with the very real and moving stories. Before studying for her MA Jung had an interest in documenting, archiving and librarianship; this comes through in her fine art practice and brings a thought-provoking dimension to her work.

Selected by Sarah Brown
Published August, 2010

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