10 Minutes with Yva Jung

Yva Jung Bio

Yva Jung is a visual artist, currently based in Hertfordshire, UK. Jung works with moving image, digital print, drawing, sculpture and improvised encounters, and her practice is an ongoing, reflective dialogue with daily experiences and everyday objects that she subverts to add stories to. Jung studied Fine Art in Seoul and New York before receiving her practice-led PhD from Slade School of Fine Art, London in 2016. She has been awarded many grants including from Arts Council England, Arts Council Korea, Jerome Foundation and Canada Council for the Arts, and has undertaken several artist residencies including the Arctic Circle Residency, Triangle Art Workshop and Darling Fonderie. Jung’s work has been exhibited in international art institutions such as König London (UK), Art Night Associate Programme (UK), CAFAM Biennale (China), Griffin Gallery (UK), Bomb Factory (UK), St Albans Museum (UK), Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival (UK), Taipei Contemporary Art Center (Taipei), Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (Germany), Sangsangmadang Gallery (South Korea), Soho20 Gallery (USA) and DUMBO Art Under the Bridge Festival (USA). More of Jung’s work can be found here: http://www.yvajung.com/

Your artistic practice is inspired by observing the external world – whether it is from your own experiences or unfamiliar environments. Can you give examples of previous works? 

To me, making art is a way of understanding the world and others. Journeys, encounters and new places are the basis of my inspiration. One of the examples is a body of work I made in the Arctic Circle. I was particularly curious about gravity in the Arctic. The earth is not a perfect sphere (it’s a little squashed like a donut), so I wondered if the weight of my body would feel different. Rather than trying to find a scientific way of measuring its gravity, I took an apple on the trip, thinking of Newton, and dropped the apple from different points of my body.

I also made a video piece called ‘The Arctic Isn’t Too Far From Her(e)’ with the idea of using my body as a measure and mirror for understanding the frozen land.

The Arctic isn’t Too Far from Her(e), 2011, video still

Having met you in an online networking event, I cannot stop myself and ask how the heightened use of the digital had an effect on your practice recently?

I don’t think the current digital saturation has changed the work I have made but rather how I share my work with the audience. What has clearly changed is the need to have a digital focused mindset. I don’t mean doing everything online but to have a more self-directed, responsive approach rather than relying on institutions, such as galleries or agencies. Having this in mind, one of the things I set up is ‘Monday Screening’ which is a series of video screenings on Mondays on my website. I am also interested in finding different ways of sharing my work with a broader audience, and this includes finding new opportunities to meet others.

Meetings and conversations have always been integral in my practice. During the pre-pandemic era, I would sell samples of dew in exchange for poems or sell bags of artist’s breath for stories. For the time being, this way of engaging with the audience is not possible within the Covid guidelines (social distancing etc). I am trying to find different ways of engaging in a remote way; one example is by an instruction piece about the exchange of dew which was distributed by mail.

Do you have a preferred medium, if so what is it? 

I work with various media – drawing, photography, performance, sculpture, video, etc. My circumstances influence the idea for the work, which in turn influences the choice of medium. For example, when I was travelling a lot, my work was more performative as I wanted it to respond to my immediate surroundings. When I moved to London, I didn’t travel to make art for a few years, so instead I used ‘pause’ as a mode of making art and reflecting the experiences on my journeys. During this time of pause, I made a lot of sculptures and video works which allowed me to develop ideas for work that required long-term processes and production.

Green Apples, 2020, jesmonite, 80 x 20 x 8 cm

What / who inspires you right now?

I have been walking along a path near my house everyday with my daughter who is currently three years old. I am inspired by her in the way she notices the small things (e.g ants, worms, birds, leaves) and disregards things that I consider big (e.g time, dates, appointments etc). I don’t want to sound cliché but it’s immensely refreshing to see how she sees things because she is seeing them for the first time with awe and amazement. As painful as the lockdowns have been, these daily walks have made me pause to think about all the extra stuff I would be wound up about; it has given me fresh perspective to pause, to listen and to focus on the things that really matter.

If you could teleport yourself to any time or place in the world, where and when would it be? 

Ever since I visited the Arctic Circle, I have been dreaming of visiting Antarctica – I can’t make up my mind about what to expect in terms of similarities with the Arctic – I imagine it with a different sort of sunlight, almost like the difference between the dawn and the dusk. I would want to visit Antarctica and when the Southern Lights are most visible.

Are you reading or watching anything interesting at the moment? 

I have been reading about the sea and journeys recently. Through reading, I am trying to imagine the sea – its smell and the sound. It feels absurd at times to imagine the sea in Hertfordshire (where I live) where it is mostly dry land. I just finished reading ‘Salt On Your Tongue’ by Charlotte Runcie. It’s a beautiful book about the relationship between the sea and women. I love how the story interweaves literary references about sea journeys and the author’s personal experiences – memories of her late grandmother, pregnancy and giving birth, and singing sea shanties to her baby in rhythms of the waves. While reading this book, I kept thinking of the story by Miranda July in her brilliant book, ‘No One Belongs Here More Than You’ that I read a while ago. It’s a short story about old people trying to learn how to swim on the kitchen floor with a bowl of salt water. Perhaps their persistent efforts to learn swimming without being in the water reminded me of my absurd attempt to imagine being near the sea when I am forced by the coronavirus restrictions to stay in my town, which is surrounded by fields.  

The next one I will be reading is ‘To the River’ by Olivia Laing which is a story about the author walking the river Ouse from source to sea.

I can see that you have been recently awarded with Arts Council England Emergency Fund and A-N Bursary which is very impressive. What have those grants enabled you to work on at the moment?

I’ve been very grateful to receive these funds which are a tremendous support for artists. The Emergency Fund from the Arts Council helped me cover lost incomes from teaching that was cancelled or delayed due to Covid-19. It also supported my research on the theme of journey that is more conceptual rather than physical. A-N bursary will support my upcoming R&D residency and commission in Felixstowe, Suffolk, hosted by Pier Projects. The residency was meant to take place last year but due to the pandemic, it was postponed. Both A-N and Pier Projects have been incredibly supportive and flexible in accommodating unpredictability regarding the schedule/plan for the R&D which I am very thankful for. For this commission, I am developing a new video work and outdoor sculpture piece that are about journey and our relationship to the sea.