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Husk and Ash 2013

 

"…like the whirling dust, Like chaff before the wind." (Psalms 83:13-15)

 

Husk and Ash is a participatory installation that invites its audience to "sow" a large standing canvas with handfuls of rice husk ("chaff") and rice husk ash. A multilayered fabric canvas is stretched over a large aluminum frame, behind which are forty suction pumps that transform the canvas into a large suction wall. While engaged, the pumps hold the husk and ash to the canvas that visitors “paint” on. In addition to the participation of the general public, over the course of the exhibition in Seoul, a number of young local artists trained in traditional Korean Painting were invited to treat the installation as a blank canvas for their creations.

 

Before the close of the galleries each night, while participants watched, the pumps were turned off and the compositions collapsed to the floor.

 

With its use of rice husk and rice husk ash, the inedible and industrial byproducts of the fundamental sustenance of Korean life – rice – the Husk and Ash installation suggests the changing Korean cultural landscape and the fragility of its historical traditions. Centuries-old customs relating to everything from family life to architecture are being paved over by homogenizing pragmatic solutions to the social and material problems arising from Korea’s rapid economic boom.

 

The Husk and Ash installation literally inverts the Biblical verse, utilizing the power of air suction to hold the materials in a state of tensed suspension.

 

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