The Narrow Sorrow

siren eun young jung, The Narrow Sorrow, 2007, posters, each sized 59.4 × 84.1 cm
Image courtesy the artist and Insa Art Space, Seoul

The Narrow Sorrow

Artist: siren eun young jung

siren eun young jung records people who actually exist but who don’t. She brings awake the memories of those women who wandered through the dark nights like apparitions or vanished over time, and records them in her work as an alternative history. In Dongducheon, some live like invisible people because they are not inscribed in official administrative records, although they do exist in actuality and live in the area. So called “unregistered” and “unidentified”, the club “sisters”, the second generation of multicultural families, and people from different minority groups are outsiders who have not been pronounced. They are eligible to receive neither their status guarantee nor public benefits although they are engaged in social roles and economic labor. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that there is a colonial relationship between these minorities, Dongducheon natives, and domestic migrants who have streamed into the city over the years.

In an attempt to make a social mapping of Dongducheon, siren has made a series of posters with photos and text that inform social and gender issues inherent in Dongducheon that have thus far not been uttered. The posters are displayed folded and stacked in piles to allow the visitors to take them for free. For instance, one of the poster series, The Narrow Sorrow, is a photograph of peculiarly narrow gates situated between club buildings, behind which even smaller doors unfold leading onto club workers’ shabby lodgings. The width of the gates is so narrow that it is difficult to imagine a person can actually pass through them. The significance of the poster series is best described in the artist’s own words: “Public memory is constructed from a selective narrative of memory, erasing narrow spaces like the ones in this part of Dongducheon and deleting women’s bodies that fill these spaces. They are Homo Sacer who exist but don’t exist, and their bodies, hidden behind the narrow gates, are silent. After few hours, glittering night streets with vulgar neon signs will drive out their silence and sorrow, but just for a while. When a site mingled with bustling activity, entertainment, desire, cheapness and madness occupy the night, women dressed up in their most extravagant cloths, chattering in different languages, come out to the streets and proclaim this noisy site as their own.”

-Heejin Kim, Insa Art Space

This work is part of Insa Art Space’s presentation in the Museum as Hub introductory presentation from December 1, 2007, through February 24, 2008.