The Moon’s Trick, Young In Hong

Ned Carter Miles

Many things in art are matters of transposition. Figurative painting is a conversion of three dimensions into two, sculpture is in part the translation of a thing from one material to another, conceptual and performance art are about ideas manifested in matter and gesture. Through each of these transformations, some essence of the original subject remains, but information is inevitable lost and gained as a function of the media used. In the case of Young In Hong, who held her first solo exhibition, “The Moon’s Trick,” at a British public institution at the Korean Cultural Centre UK, the prominent use of embroidery in her practice brings much to her subjects as they are transformed into works of art.

Representative of much of the work from Hong’s ten-year career, several of the older pieces on display were based on photographs, and were particularly marked by the intensity of labor that went into their creation. Burning Love (2014), composed of viscose rayon threads and cotton, is a meticulously embroidered image in oversaturated blue, orange, yellow and red portraying the crowd from a candlelit demonstration held in Seoul in 2008, where participants are marked by thousands of dots of light. The manifestation was in response to a government decision to reverse a ban on US beef imports, and represented one of the most important democratic events in Korea’s modern history, seeing thousands take to the streets. It was notoriously underreported in mainstream media at the time, with little energy spent to document it, and so there is something poetic about the extraordinary amount of work that has gone into consolidating the moment here.

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