When Two People Love Each Other
Plaster and Plexiglass
Dimensions vary. Approximately 67x38x24"
Korean Cultural Center, Washington D.C
The following is an excerpt from an email exchange I had with artist Wonjung Choi in the fall of 2015.
Eye Level Participation is one part of a much larger effort I have been making and comes from a sincere desire to make contact. Devoted attachment and registrations of connection.
Fall of 2014. Denmark. European Ceramic Context.
I was hosted by a Danish Folk High School called Engelsholm, and given access to their Form Lab for plaster, clay and glass. Folk High Schools are places of social education. They are where the idea of democratic formation is practiced. There are some family resemblances to this pedagogy in America, but simply no coherent contemporary mode of this in American education. At its core, the folk high school is the Danish citizens conceptualizing and giving form to an education that we all need; It is first and foremost, a social education.
Every morning is spent together with the students at their breakfast, their assemblies, and then throughout the days they have meeting time. I got to know them and they me a little. I witnessed their education in action. There are rhythms to their school and the students were willing to particiapte in their own education. The project is to get everyone to participate with each other and to relate to each other in a decent way.
The title of my work "Eye Level Participation" is taken directly from Folk High School language. I asked students to meet me in their Form Lab where I was working. All teachers and staff and students could come. Initially in pairs, one person held or pressed plaster filled balloons into the armpits of their partner. One on each side! They were achieving supportive gestures and both people were physically at eye level with each other. Imagine picking up a baby. As the project grew so did the size of the objects. As participants became excited they grew courageous. Trios formed.
When you asked me to bring sculptures from this project to the embassy cultural center I had a problem. All of the work I made for these ideas stayed behind at the school. I needed to revisit the spirit of making this work, but could not reperform because of the environment where I live in now. I asked for the people I work with to help me make the sculptures. A few couples came to my studio, mostly people who are in love with each other. I could only focus on how the sculptures that were being made were about the love between two people. I began to wonder about the people who, for whatever reason, find themselves alone. For this work I want acknowledge people who sleep alone at night and not just people who are coupled up.
When Two People Love Each Other is the title of the sculptures. It asks for people to connect to make the sculpture, but also allows for the individual, indeed it is relying on the individual. This is an American turn. It is an American extension of a Scandinavian social concept. Rooted both in the ideas of a Danish folk high school, and the American narrative of individualism--however fraught the latter may be with untruths and loneliness. The forms I made are abstract because I understand artwork as a process and as a question. I believe that process and questions are, at their core, abstract. When focused on people and how we relate to each other, we come to understand our necessary connections.