A friend wrote an essay for the Carl Andre catalog that accompanies his retrospective at the Dia:Beacon. We accompanied she and her fiance, another friend, to a preview of the exhibit before it opened to the public.
During a brief welcome talk, Yasmil Raymond noted that artists make both “Art” with a capital “A” and “art” with a lower-case “a”. A number of Andre’s lower-case “a” artworks were presented as a means of showing his artistic process. There was also a video piece that she took pains to note showed him “conceiving” a work of art. He wasn’t making a work; he was conceiving a work.
A selection of photographs taken by Andre (lower case “a” art pieces) could be read as a visual keystone to understanding his conceptual process. The photographs were of steel plates on roadways, paving stones piled on curbs and heavy wooden support beams: the observational raw materials that became his structured conceptual works.
These got my mind working to categorize photographers between observational and conceptual. The last several books reviewed here have been very much conceptual in nature: photographs created to fulfill a central concept. While these can be incisive, they can also be too clean or become illustrative and repetitive. I thought it would be good to change pace and segue to something a little more observational, a little more raw.
One of the first SSE-P zines I acquired was Hasisi Park’s [jjim jil bang] Korea. It came up in the review of the SSE-P project. Park’s straightforward photographs always held something back obscuring as much as they revealed. I made a mental note to keep an eye out for her name.
I was delighted in March to find that she put out a new book, Casual Pieces 1 in October of 2013 through Gallery FACTORY. The book doesn’t appear to be connected to an exhibit. (I could be missing one on the Gallery’s site, though the site also doesn’t mention the book anywhere).
The title suggests that these are snapshots, that they’ve been casually made. They are composed with too much care and sequenced with too much intention to be snapshots. Like true snapshots (not simply photographs made with that aesthetic), Park’s photographs come from observation made through living in the world. These are personal photographs, sometimes very personal. What comes through life comes through the lens.
The cool conceptual conceits of xyZ City are entirely absent here. Park’s photographs have heat. There is intense longing and intense desire in the photographs. They cannot contain themselves. Light spills through sprocket holes. Images merge and marry. Bodies entwine and are obscured by other bodies–physical and photographic. Water suffuses the images and deep color washes over them. Fertility is everywhere. Light caresses flesh. Pressure builds and is released.
There is almost no descriptive text in Casual Pieces 1. The photographs stand on their own without the conceptual framework of an accompanying essay. We are left to sink or swim in what we can glean through observation of the images. Open the cover and, following the title page, we plunge headlong into the plates. At the end of the plates is a two page image index with captions in English containing title and year. These are the only clues we are given as to the intention of the photographer or meaning of the photographs.
Casual Pieces 1 is a delightful and delight filled romp through a world of sensual delight. Life is lived through these photographs as much as it is recorded by them.
Park remains a photographer worth paying attention to.
Casual Pieces 1
Publication Date: 14 October 2013
Publisher: Bora Hong
Photography: Hasisi Park
Design: Hankyul Do