Yourself, yours @Gallery2

Juae PARK

(Born in Korea Republic, 1989)

The first stuffed doll the artist made was her boyfriend who she missed dearly. She states that she wanted to draw it as close to his likeness as possible. It was not a clothed doll, and it represented her boyfriend anatomi-cally correct in the sense that all his physical characteristics that she could recall were all present. Without a doubt, art addresses absence. Simulacre, synonymous to a replica or fake, also denotes an apparition. Figure once carried the meaning of ghost. Image was derived from the word imago, meaning the waxen mask used to lift the face of the dead. As such, art was born from the most absolute of absences; death. The dead (either in the second or third dimension) are resurrected via surrogate material. The cotton-filled doll of the boyfriend is both present and absent, a trick to anchor the invisible by the side.

 

All things serve a purpose. Of all things, dolls are born of the most extraordinary purpose: to captivate the human affect. The dolls embody a human (or animal) resemblance and in magical silence conjure an illusion for people to partake. Park's description that 'the process of drawing a face unto the sewn white fabric and filling the flat emptiness with cotton to give it a sense of volume, or being, was how I imagine it feels like to imbue something with a soul.' is hardly surprising. Dolls are just glorified stuffed pouches. No matter how realistic, they lack a soul, is not real, and is devoid of function. However, is it only the functional that enriches human life? For example, the crucifix or other paraphernalia serve a purpose, simply by their presence. Through the transcendent powers of a fetishized subject, fear and doubt is dispelled.

 

Park's dolls take on a therianthropic, that is half-man half-beast forms. They are not new to her works, as they frequently appeared in her earlier paintings. A Time to Warm My Blood (2016) shows such beings somewhere between a roe and a human in a large bath with a willow tree in the center. Park shares that she wanted to initially draw human facial features, but didn't know how, so she drew the roe instead. Roes are timid animals but have a tendency to lunge at bright lights. Park says she felt like a roe. She borrows the partial figure of a roe as a form of circumlocution as a confession of her own identity, unable to self-define and unable to claim a full upbringing into wholesome adulthood.

 

This form of zoomorphism is metonymy, a type of circumlocution where a term stands in for an object or concept. It is an act of denial to the original object, while also an act of designation. The charm of metonymy lies in the sentiment and poetic symbolism of the placeholder word. The human form and the animal form combine to gain the special characters and symbolism of the animal. Thus, dolls of half-man half-beasts are not merely zoomorphic depictions of human beings, but a step away from the symbol of the human form.

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Juae PARK
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