Nowhere I Can Be

Stockholm, February 2013

Young In Hong

The night before my trip with the orange frame began, I felt excited. I was thrilled, thinking of the unexpected encounters that might happen. On the other hand, I felt somehow anxious. Through the window, I could see snow ceaselessly transforming a whole city into a white and alien landscape. Not being used to making my way on foot on slippery ground and feeling the otherness of the city filled me with a sense of foreboding. This combined experience of light and darkness, excitement and anxiety stayed with me throughout my journey. Every night, I looked outside the window from the top floor of the Stockholm apartment where I was staying. The rooftops of buildings and the back garden of the next-door apartment block were gradually being covered by a white blanket. It seemed as if no one was living in this area, only snow was moving through the air, falling silently to add to the thickness of the blanket already covering everything.

The next day, the orange frame and I started our journey around the city. The air was cold and wet, my boots were stained, my gloves wet. Most of the time, the orange frame made some meaningless gestures of its own whenever I called upon it to perform its aesthetic framing of the city. It wanted to surround rubbish bins, or itself became a picture frame through which to view a dull public sculpture or an unnecessary barrier around a traffic sign. I found my cube awkward company. This orange frame also searched for tourist sites. Inside the church of Gamla Stan, it sat in front of the holy cross, fully inspired by the sacred space. On arrival at Gröna Lund, since it was winter and due to the weather, the gate was firmly closed. The orange frame could not leave, whispering spring should be coming soon, as if it had all the patience in the world to wait. But I had not. Later I found that the Skansen open-air museum quickly became one of my friend’s favourite Stockholm sites. At a site where the old city of Stockholm was virtually constructed, the uptight frame behaved more naturally in the Skansen. We also wandered around Södermalm, close to where I was staying. The awkward frame liked sitting by the riverside, looking across to the other side of the bay or dreaming of impossible futures. When we were in the cemetery of Skogskyrkogården, my friend expressed sudden unexpected grief on behalf of the diseased and the bereaved, and stayed calm and solemn.

As the days passed, I got a bad dose of flu from walking around in the severe cold. My strange orange friend got wet from the constant rain and snow, and started to become distorted. Both of us were feeling out of place. Nevertheless, the orange frame and I were getting along better and better, relying on and getting to understand each other. We no longer complained about the weather, we were more used to walking through the snow. In some sense I became the orange frame, and the orange frame became me. From that moment onwards, we were physically and mentally worn out. We were ready to separate from each other. I regret how, in that moment, I was unable to imagine that I would ever miss my friend. But today I feel somehow nostalgic about our silent companionship, which for me epitomised the atmosphere of a wintry Stockholm.

Throughout our strange journey, I dreamt a lot each night, meeting forgotten people who had influenced my life, visiting a number of places I had been, but barely remembering them. During that period, I was neither fully asleep at night nor fully awake during the day. Unfortunately there is no way of going back to ask the orange frame whether this was just my experience.

(Nowhere I Can Be, Artist Book, p.3, Printed in Seoul, p.3. ISBN 978-0-9558967-3-6)