Free! Divine Guidance

Sumin Hwang

Tank Helmet (2022)

My grandmother's grandfather was a Korean Arts and Culture Minister for the last generation of the pre-colonial Joseon Dynasty. When I make work I think a lot about what he sees and what he thinks about an what he loves. I know that he loves my grandmother as I love her. My work across film, sculpture, text, and installation invokes Korean craft imagery, folklore, shamanistic performance, oral histories, children's literature, archival photographs, and translation. I return to these traditions tot make sense of how my shell and my spirit re protected by, surrounded by, and interconnected with generational echoes, distance, severance, survival, and joy. By constructing this work, I am learning to weave and articulate my own matrix of autobiographical and sociohistorical relations. I am firmly grounded in genetic, spiritual, and communal inheritances, yet I am always aware that all I have inherited is not necessarily all mine to share. To disclose too much would be to potentially expose these delicate and intergenerational root structures to surveillance and commodification. By glitching the expectations of craft, language, and curation, I encrypt my archive to be selfishly opaque. the resulting language is one of playfulness—one of prismatic color—one of Poly-fil—one of homesickness—one of mythological characters—one of vowels—one of footnotes—one of wrinkles—one of ghosts. My practice is an exercise in an embodied mother tongue.

I only ever met my grandmother four times during her life. Almost everything I know about her has been communicated to me through oral storytelling. Yet, the woman in my family carry a history of generational dementia; that is archive is meant to outlive me. this makes me approach learning and craft with an inherent urgency—I just make work about things that I don't want to forget.

Sumin Hwant: Tank Helmet
Sumin Hwang: Tank Helmet