Joo Yeon Woo’s projects question how her physical and psychological experiences of displacement affect and reshape a sense of identity in her nomadic life. Our experiences in nomadic culture and life style are now multicultural, transcending geographic locations and ethnic characteristics of our living environments. Such experiences help us become familiar with the experiences of the “sense of placelessness”—a unique spatial experience in contemporary societies mentioned by Edward Relph—in our daily life. Improving the quality of life no longer necessitates having a strong intimacy association with one’s current residence. Immigrant’s lives typically represent such experiences of the sense of placelessness, and Joo Yeon Woo, as an immigrant herself, explores various issues about place in her projects through her personal immigrant experiences and stories.
Joo Yeon Woo’s new photography project, Traveler’s Cup, incorporates the act of collecting, which is a way to document and archive her history and memories of places she has lived and visited. She says that the act of collecting for her project is a more creative process of artistic action rather than simply documenting and preserving objects. Her collections encourage viewers to meditate on the meaning of the trivial round of her daily life and the sense of time flow. The collections, which will be shown in her solo show at the Trunk Gallery, were completed while she traveled in Hungry, Austria, and Czech Republic. The works were shot on location in order to incorporate a performative approach and a sense of immediacy, whereas her earlier works were completed in a studio setting. To shorten the production process, she photographed images of selected architecture, landmarks, and monuments, printed them out on 5cm-sized paper, cut the images out very carefully, and then soaked the cut prints in a glass of water to rephotograph the prints within the landscape from whence they came.
She has been collecting different surroundings and arranging them, per place, within the water glass from which she drinks every day in order to absorb the location visually and conceptually. These “portraits” of place are an artistic archive of her cultural displacement and the attendant sense of instability and sense of alienation.