WOO YUN JIN

from South Korea

2nd place Sticker Awards 2011

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wanchun-shanghai-woo-small-80fcb86058805af61218ae8e083448985c0cf5bd

Your name (or synonym) / your crew: Woo Yun Jin (project name: Sishandang/私善党)
Your Age: 28
Your Country: South Korea

Interview

Where are you from, what is your age and what are you doing in real life?

I grew up in Seoul, South Korea, but the project was located in Shanghai, China, since I was staying there about a year for other reasons. Recently, I relocated myself to a small college town in Indiana, USA, for my doctoral study communication and culture, focusing on art activism. I teach ‘public speaking’ to undergraduate students for my living and studying. I think it would be ideal if I could say there is no boundary between my “real life” and “artistic/non-real life,” but I’m still working on it.

Why have you decided to do stickers, when it‘s possible to do grafitti or paint on canvas, too?

I’m interested in working in ways in which I could locate my work in the specific context I live in, which led me to explore wheat paste for this project. It was in relation to the governmental propaganda banners commonly found in Shanghai, where I was staying at the time, and the medium seemed appropriate for my intention. The method of making the posters was in part related to Chinese paper cutting art as well. It was also important for me to have the posters exhibited in public space similar to the banners—to put up something that is slightly off from the convention but similar enough to refer it, and letting it change in time or to be damaged. Although they were taken down, partially damaged, or covered with paint, I think there was a value of the whole process as a performance that requires people's participation of noticing the difference and making a decision about it. Actually, some of them lasted for months.

Which medium (material and tools) do you prefer?

There is no particular medium I prefer, but I need reasons for choosing a certain medium for each project. The sense of agency is important as well; I like having the possibility to produce and circulate/exhibit my work without relying on the gallery system.

Is it easy for you to work in public space or do you have to fear police or political persecution?

If my project involves illegal activities, I feel the need to avoid any conflicts with the police by being discreet. If doesn’t, I don’t mind being interrogated or intervened by the police when working in public space. It’s not easy but incorporating my work into the viewer/participant’s everyday experience is important to me, including that of the authorities.

How present is street art in your town nowadays? Who are the people who are interested in it?

I haven’t been part of any street art community anywhere, but neither Shanghai nor Seoul had a big street art scene. When I was doing street performances in Seoul (i.e., living without wearing shoes for forty days while fulfilling everyday responsibilities like teaching), some people stopped and asked me questions. A lot of them were baffled and sometimes were even offended or frightened by its unusualness. In Shanghai, the work was done in the early mornings, which made it harder to prompt conversations with passersby although some people still stopped and gazed what I was doing for a while.

How would you categorize the work you are creating: is it art, passion, hobby, graphical discussion, mission, pure fun or something very else?

I see it as a counter-performance, but a subtle kind.

What is the intention of your work?

The hand-cut posters were in response to the governmental propaganda banners that are commonly found in China—more specifically, Shanghai. The banners are in a unified theme with various texts that promote and advertise governmental policies. My posters resemble to the banners in style (typography, size, color scheme, etc.) while being illegible or distorted in content; usually I played with well-known phrases and treated each character as a pure graphical element to mess with.

Why did you join the sticker awards? Did you know you are a winner? Does it mean something for you?

Reading the book on political art and activism, Art and Agenda, subsequently led me to the website, REBEL: ART, and the awards. I believe that street art, ironically, calls for archiving for its temporality and inevitable venerability; although one may say it becomes a different kind of work through remediation. I also recognize that it’s important to have platforms for art in various media since using different platforms or media often mean having different audiences. Joining the Sticker Awards is my way of contributing to the platform in return to what it provides to individual artists like me.

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