Jueon Woo is a South Korean artist based in France. Graduated at Villa Arson in Nice - Cote d'Azur, Woo is constantly working on films, videos and performances which constitute its main artistic language.
Chambre Fluide - Jueon, performance is crucial in your artistic research. Sometimes you perform alone and sometimes with other people. Between the two, it changes how the body acts. In the first case it’s just you and your body and its movements, in the second one, the body has to relate itself with other bodies. What leads you to collaborate with other performers?
How would you describe the two experiences, working alone and together?
Jueon Woo - I have been doing performances, especially improvisation in order to research body movement and its expression. When I perform alone, I concentrate intensively on myself in detail like my breath, movement of muscles, which makes me feel like I’m doing a meditation. In this way, I discover the hidden aspects of my personality and habits carved in my body.
On the other hand, performing with others is like a conversation. When we do improvisations in a group, we’re playing with the real time interaction between us. Someone shows me a gesture, then I give her/him back my response, and we sometimes encounter moments of coincidence which are literally magical. This kind of unexpectedness inspires me a lot because I can escape from my comfort zone and have a new experience.
CF - Where do your works rise from and how do they develop? Where do you take inspiration from?
JW - My works usually start from my questions about social problems and my identity as a Korean christian feminist young woman living in Europe. That’s why many of my works are based on issues of feminism or racism and talk about social injustice. My major idea is that typical images tend to reproduce typical ideas and stereotypes. I think, for this reason, I try a kind of manifest with visual newness or visual ironies. Then I develop my idea by what I want to play with. It’s like kids who want to play without any reason but because they want to. My toy can be a joke, a camera, my hand, sound, natural objects, a pen to draw, etc. For example, one day, I become interested in collecting different types of leaves fallen on ground, and another day, I get fascinated by making sounds composed of different people’s voices. Playing with a material or an idea means waiting for it and spending time with it. Like there is a good timing of wine aging, I believe that there comes a good timing to mature a project. Sometimes because of my laziness or some reasons, I miss that timing and that inspiration doesn’t interest me anymore. So for me, it’s important to start right away when I get inspiration.
At the same time I don’t get stressed out a lot when I don’t have inspiration because I believe that it’s not me who makes the timing to work, but it’s the work itself who comes to me. I wait for the timing, reading books, traveling,
meeting new people, writing, watching documentaries, visiting exhibitions etc.
CF - Among all the works you have done, which is the project you care most about?
JW - Even though every work is so precious to me, <Movement score No.1> drawing has a special and important meaning for me. For this project, I drew many abstract images to create body movements. Scores are usually designed to record a dance or a music to represent in the future like a document, which means they come after the creation. But mine comes before the creation because the abstract image leads performers to imagine their movements and create their performances.
I started this project for the ordinary people who don’t know how to move without fear and without any prejudice about their own body. We sometimes don’t get afraid of imitating yoga, stretching, or super star’s dances, but we hesitate when we’re totally free to express and create something with our body. For this reason, I hoped that practicing with my movement score could help them to re-realise or re-define their body as a source of creativity.
I was able to publish it as a part of a book that I created with 2 other female artists, as a collective group ‘3BSS’.
The book was delivered to those who ordered it as a private exhibition at home during the period of pandemic so that the people could hang the artwork on the wall. The appreciator could practice the imaginary performance watching my score or at least simply enjoy the abstract drawing.
Since most of my works are performances, videos or films, I could say that it’s almost the only one piece that I have presented as a drawing work. But through this experience I found a possibility in my drawing as a conceptual work or a part of my performance works. Although I have done for now the score No.1, I expect to create a sort of series or a more developed version of my drawings.
CF - You are from Seoul, South Korea and currently living and working in Nice. How does your identity, background influence your artistic work?
JW - I’m from Seoul where I spent most of my life. I lived about two years in Paris, and then two years in Nice.
I’ve recently left Nice and I’m currently living in a small village in Jeju, an island in the Southern sea of Korea. I moved to this new peaceful rural environment to live in a cosy house with a garden and to have my own studio inside. I try here to be closer to nature and to be part of the small friendly community of the village. I’m now learning a lot from nature and the elders of the village. And I’m also passionate to contribute to the community where I belong as an artist and to share what I have learnt in the art school in Seoul and in Nice.
Before, when I was in big cities in Korea or in France, I was more interested in conflicts and social issues doing my artistic activities. But I think now I’m trying to listen to my inner voice and find my own way to create things in my quiet place.