In the work of South Korean artist Sunyoung Park, the everyday object stands in the foreground in its functional integrity as well as in its materiality and history. She works primarily with materials that have already participated in a secondary economy and lost their functional value. Park “listens” to the language of things, albeit not audible and readable, but “silent.” It is a language that does not relate to its everyday functionality anymore. In order make the objects resonate, Park creates contextual dialogues. For example in the sculptural series “Shoe Study” of 2009 – she employs used shoes as “ready-mades”, alienated and de-categorized their materiality and functionality.
While studying in Düsseldorf, Park traveled extensively in Europe. She also took many, mostly random, photographs. Looking at the photograph after taking the picture made her keenly aware of what she saw, what had surrounded her. She noticed that whenever she took a picture, automobiles were driven or parked somewhere and, “obstructing” the view. She became fascinated with the cars, as there are ideologically and functionally some of the most loaded and controversial objects of contemporary life. She realized that she has an affinity to cars and began to focus on the car in her artistic production; she has remained faithful to it ever since: “I like the car. The car is for me a living object (especially when I build a myself, I feel strong). At the same time, the car is a highly compact and mobile environment and contains a lot of memories from my past.”
Sunyoung builds cars from various materials such as plywood, recycled materials, wax, concrete and plaster. In the exhibition When Red Turns to Green, two cars are shown, one made of recycled and distressed wood, the other one cast in concrete.
When Park does not build cars, she builds “photopiles”, which means that she builds subtle relief sculptures. Photopiles are mounted photographs, up to 20, on top of the other. Every photograph contains a cut out area. What she cuts out are mostly cars: “When you cut out the car in a photopile, it not only leaves an empty space, but the space it actually leave is shaped like a car. Cutting out is like the implementation of turning the positive into the negative. The photopile with cut-out cars create a new, imagined reality.” The car is replaced by a newly created space, while in the reality of everyday life, the void – i.e. the empty parking space – is replaced by the car.
For Park, cutting out means turning the positive into the negative. During her residency at the Lepsien Foundation, Park started to work with cartography and colored paper. Parks abstract collages are playful, yet serious experiments with colors, shapes and materials, limiting herself to one sheet of paper per color to build beautiful assemblages. These collages only look random at first sight; instead, they are cartographic abstractions of cities, neighborhoods, islands and countries. Park received a residency in 2015 from the Lepsien Art Foundation (Düsseldorf), where she also showed her latest work, in Emerging Artists 14|15. Her work is also included in the current exhibition Wahlverwandtschaften Duisburger Künstler und junge Talente at the Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg. Sunyoung Park received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from SangMyung University, Seoul, South Korea in 2007, and her MFA as Meisterschülerin of Richard Deacon at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf in 2013. She has shown her work extensively in group shows; she lives and works in Paris and Seoul.