T H E U N V EI L I N G
Chaewon Kim to transform the commitment and promise into a river made out of coffee stirrers and plastic objects coated with thermochromic paint. As we walked along the “riverbank” and ran our fingers over it, the colours changed gradually as well, marking the intense connection between the woman and the man.
100 days – that was the young man’s promise to the maiden. For 100 days, she waited for his return. And for 100 days, she was reminded everyday of the solemn fate that could fall upon him. Installation artist Oh You Kyeong grouped transparent plastic tubes into life-size bundles that mimicked the curves of the python. The solemn representation was a roomful affair – visitors had to walk around the curved path, the intensity of the woman’s longing and waiting amplified through the bright lights. The third floor of the Bluesquare Nemo Gallery marked the exhibition finale. Deep inside one of the rooms, blue squid fishing lighting illuminated the space, posing as the background for the fierce confrontation at sea. The young man did finally decapitate the python, but the blood of the monster from the vicious fight stained the brave warrior’s body, the ship, and the white flag. Overcome with exhaustion, he passed out on the ship deck on the way home. The maiden, upon seeing the young man’s seemingly lifeless body, threw herself in the throes of despair, and took her own life.
Our group stood face to face with this red-and-blue installation by Jihyun Boo, waiting for our guide to take us through the tragic misunderstanding. A few seconds later, we were greeted with a loud splash, followed immediately by the alarming sound of glass shattering. “Was that supposed to happen?” I quipped, while all five of us in the group looked quizzically at each other.
Our guide remarked on this opportune moment. Once a day here in this very space, a light bulb breaks off from the hanging lights above the water tank, signifying the brutal fight between the young man and the python, as well as the stained, blood red sails that broke the woman’s heart. It seemed like the end, but all was not lost.
LOV E ,
Transparent glass tubes, grouped together to make the silhouette of the three-headed python
I MMORTA L I S ED
When the young man regained consciousness, he buried the maiden’s body on a hillside. The next summer, a quaint tree grew and blossomed atop her grave. The unknown flowers from that tree bloomed for 100 days. The villagers named this mysterious flower, “crape myrtle”, to honour the tireless spirit of the maiden and her never-ending perseverance in this love story.
The story may have ended there, and the exhibition may have been an experience that didn’t last more than a few hours, but it was Sulwhasoo’s unwavering love for the true beauty of Korea that never ceased to take its endeavours beyond its capacity. Min Ji Hee, an illustration designer designed a colouring book that told A Tale of Crape Myrtle in its own length, dominated by traditional motifs such as waves and flowers.
It was an invitation, once again, to experience the poignant story of love and sacrifice. Except, this time, it was in the confines of my own home, with my memory of the Sulwha Cultural Exhibition, and my artistic interpretation, that would bring me to the grand finale.
Illuminative blue lights contrasted with the blood red bulbs to highlight the harrowing fate of the young couple