Yi Jeongheah: Houses of Skin
March 7 – April 26, 2009
3F Art Sonje Center
Yi Jeongheah: Houses of Skin
If the apartment is a typical dwelling form of modernized life in Korea, the model house is a space in which the exemplary lifestyle of apartment is incarnated and displayed.
While it has no residents in principle, the model house presents itself as an ideal home and desirable residential environment, showing a fascinating panorama of desire through the state-of-the-art design of the period and place. The phantasmagoric vision dazzles you, whispering in silence that you are rich and getting richer, demonstrating and supporting the legend of invincible real-estate market. In conspiracy with photography and graphics, the model house design enforces its visual entity and even achieves the status of reality.
The effect is evident; the model house is a classroom to teach how to live. As the dwelling space has been surprisingly standardized in the process of modernization in Korea, the measure of the quality of life has been fixed up to the price of commodities that occupy the identical houses. Thus the model house ceaselessly introduces the brand-new must-have items and speeds up the cycle of consumption, persuading that this is the real life and you must live in this way. It is of course a fantasy, nevertheless strangely educative.
In Houses of Skin, Yi Jeongheah presents three kinds of “model house” literally. It is a critical design of the apartment and model house as well as a question about the condition of possible life in now-here. The ultimate target of the question is the estimate for “the typical family in Korea” and their typical activities, which is already inscribed in the typical apartment design. If the things around us reflect the way we live, the house we make and possess could be a screen on which we project our own portrait. Thus the common plan of apartment is willing to forge alliances with the ideology of patriarchal family of four or its modification as the “normal family,” ignoring the possibility to nest other forms of life.
Here Yi proposes another model house, a new form of dwelling for different people who do not choose the typical life. Through the material form of house, she thinks what kind of house could accommodate other people far from the normal family, how space and objects could be combined for untypical family to feel cozy, in which space a single life could be not so frustrating.
Thus you can see in Houses of Skin a vast diorama-like vision of several model houses. You should fill the gap for yourself between the visible and the invisible, the real things from everyday world and the unusual and implicative forms of temporary house. There are also some everyday objects Yi designs for herself, transgressing the already unsettled border between the common and the strange. All the things are, however, carefully adjusted to conjure up the warm atmosphere of home, reminding of a sense of affection that transforms every house into someone’s home. The three model houses in Houses of Skin, strangely looking like home despite of its inevitable emptiness and unreality, invite us to think about the apartment and our lives in and around it.