GROWING KELP: A Perishable Story Cabinet
In summer 2011 I became an apprentice with Kelp farmers in Gijang County near Busan (Korea). This inside knowledge helped me create Kelp sculptures that were co-determined by the stories of the sea farmers.
Intro Slides (2MB)
At the heart of this artistic research is the direct engagement with the local situation: Local people harvesting Kelp at the fertile, coastal waters. To get to know the people and culture behind this traditional food condiment the artist interned for one week at a seaside Kelp manufactory.
Collaborating with Farmers, Artists & Space Bae Gallery
While sharing the daily joys (like: eating dinner together) and troubles (like: slipping on wet Sea Tangle) in this collective work setting of farming Kelp, the fellow artists SeokKyung Han, HeeKyoung Jeon and DaeHong Kim helped me to collect insights and stories from the people at the heart of Sea Tangle culture. This knowledge obtained from the Kelp workers allowed me to establish a "Kelp Laboratory" which also invited local children to make crafts with this sea leaf.
KELP LABORATORY: Making A Photo Print (Dashigraph)
Stop-motion clip, 1:59min (14.9MB). Audio by Lisa Walker.
Click below to watch.
Farming the abundantly growing Kelp doesn't require any crop soil, irrigation or artificial fertilizer. That's why I dared to use Kelp as sculptural material — that eventually can made into fine compost. Fresh, hydrated Kelp is both sensual and repellent. The beauty and challenge of sculpting with Kelp is that it has a mind of its own: It dries in ways that can not be fully controlled, making the result unpredictable and a co-creation between the artist and organic matter.
Through a happy accident I discovered that wet Kelp is a light-sensitive medium: Covered with objects and exposed to sunlight, Kelp is able to trace such objects like a monotone, photographic print. I named these light-traced works Dashigraphs ('Dashima' in Korean means Kelp).
P R O C E S SSLIDE SHOW: Project Development
SLIDE SHOW: Works from the Kelp Laboratorium
O U T C O M E
Installation with Kelp Musings
The installation at OpenSpace Bae takes the stories collected from the workers at the Kelp manufactury and presents them in the form of Kelp sculptures. When a cabinet box is opened, a written sentence about a kelpy experience appears visualized by a small, illuminated Kelp piece.
SLIDE SHOW: Kelp Installation
The installation was on view at the gallery of OpenSpace Bae (Ilgwang-Myeun, Busan, Aug. 20 to Sep. 18, 2011). The project GROWING KELP was also represented at the conference Inter-Local 2011 "North East Asia, Practice Over Discourse" organized by DaeJeon Museum of Art (Aug. 26 to Nov. 20, 2011) and at RESIDENCE NETWORK (Korea) 2011 at DaeGu Museum of Art (Aug. 30 to Sept. 4, 2011).
It was made possible through the generous support of the Kelp Manufacturers of Idong-ri Harbor, namely Lee ChongNam (jang-in Dashima Master), Hong SukJin, Hong ChongKo, An JangSuk, Han JanYu, Choi ByeongIl, Kim SuBok and Kim KilDeok. I am also deeply endepted to the fellow residency artists Han SeokKyung, Jeon HeeKyoung, Kim DaeHong, Chung HyeRyeon, In JinMi, Jeff Wong and TeYu Wang who supported me patiently as interpretators and advisors. Gamsa-habnida to Ham HyoJin for translating the project statement into Korean. Last but not least, I am grateful for the enthusiasm of my kelp-crafting students of Busan Art Camp 2011 who brought the KELP LABORATORY to life.
Momentarium creates situations where our very presence becomes the catalyst for shifting experiences we can integrate into our lives by fusing reality with co-created artifice.