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SeMA Storage, 684 Tongil-ro, Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul
2021.6.3 - 6.27

Loving of Absence


/Jang Jihan


 The solo exhibition by Jeon Bobae, NOONCHINAE, started from someone else’s artwork but it was not a perfunctory choice to borrow an image. Whatever the reason was, if the work that drew the artist’s eyes was Noonchi by Kim Beom, it was surely true that the artist did not need any reason to borrow an image. There are not many images to borrow in the little book published by Kim Beom in 2010. Introducing a dog named Noonchi, the book does not actually include an image of the dog. What is said of Noonchi is a sentence introducing the dog to readers who could be dog owners but even this language is not really descriptive. This language of Kim Beom directs the object, catalogues its character, and chases its path, but does not describe it. Words about the subject do not describe its face; the words are not about Noonchi itself but create a boundary defining Noonchi. Thus, an aesthetic space does not embody the object but it becomes a boundary for the extent of the object existence. At the same time, the object exists through its boundary or absence.

 Jeon Bobae intends the exhibition space as a place where Noonchi and its family live by adding a suffix to the dog’s name but like his family, Noonchi is not seen and cannot be seen. For example, the artist attempted to overlap unseen existences as on a photograph before creating a common space at the SeMA Storage. In the process, the objects in the only image that could be borrowed from Kim Beom’s Noonchi (including the minimum things that a dog owner needs to prepare for a dog) are turned into sculptures arranged in the space and documented in photographs.

 The artist imitated the strategy of how products are introduced in order to captivate potential customers. As a result, the objects - such as a toy looking like a bone prepared for Noonchi - were placed in a familiar space like products in a catalogue. It was the moment when something not currently in existence but becoming, or something not captured but existing around Noonchi was placed with Noonchi - objects that would make Noonchi comfortable in his home - in other words, items suggesting the existence’s boundary rather than the actual Noonchi, turned into products. Products are designed to captivate buyers beyond their basic utility. In the moment that the magic of an obvious image’s structure changes the surrounding space is examined, the aura around Noonchi comes to mind. As both an unseen dog and an unseen exchange value of products exist through absence, they stay together at NOONCHINAE.

 It seems that the artist is captivated by a place where a property of matter exists but an object does not, or where an object exists through its absence. At the exhibition Matsumoto Jun’s Mantis, her fellow artist Shin Eunji painted a dog but from the fact that she depicted “the chin underneath it” from “the subject’s vague place,” the painting served as a creation away from “one fixed viewpoint.” The absence of the familiar viewpoint here was not about the matter of choosing from different viewpoints; according to Jeon Bobae, it depicted “the path of as-it- is” existing as it is in the aspect that there were not any “worn things “ or “potentially seen layers.”[1] This absence cannot talk about the details of how the subject appeared in a painting, and even to the artist who held the brush and depicted it, doubts begin about how it started to exist on the painting. Such a space in the process of the painting that “only a path exists until it is finished” confirms an object’s existence through some kind of absence like Noonchi and the products do.[2]

 This existence through absence or absence in an existence seems to be Jeon Bobae’s intent to be captivated and curious. When the artist says that “giving love to it is possible in art.” what she attempts to do is presenting a space that she sees in her dream by layering captivating things - in other words, a space “existing only between known things” ... “naturally as they are.”[3] The artist attempts to compare the absence of the products and noonchi, and layer the story of a taxidermied lion with Shin Eunji’s painting. Meanwhile, we can see a time of questions at the artist’s moment of giving love. When we discover our absence at the place where different absences come together we come to think whether her curiosity is for these questions. Her eyes are “used as a substitute for a camera’s lens,” and she likes to use “her body as a machine.” To the artist, they are from the “desires to enjoy a single moment.”[4] Then, NOONCHINAE and Matsumoto Jun’s Mantis might stand for the possibility of keeping the magic of existence on the other side of desire in an era of increasing material possession.

[1] Jeon Bobae, 『Matsumoto Jun’s Mantis』, Plan:1, 2019, pp.11-12.

[2] Jeon Bobae, 『Matsumoto Jun’s Mantis』, Plan:1, 2019, p.8

[3] Jeon Bobae, 『Matsumoto Jun’s Mantis』, Plan:1, 2019, p.11.

[4]  Jeon Bobae, 『Matsumoto Jun’s Mantis』, Plan:1, 2019, p.12.

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