〈Fragrance and Nostalgia: Remembrance of Things Past〉, 2021.
Mixed Media, Mixed materials, soap, LED lights, incense, Dimensions variable, Commissioned by Asia Culture Center
Meekyoung Shin graduated from Seoul National University, majoring in sculpture and the graduate school of her alma mater. After acquiring the master’s degrees at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London and the Royal College of Art in London, she has worked on installation projects in the U.K. and Korea. Shin has long led various projects that reinterpret the time and traces of daily life through the medium of soap, covering the artifacts and contemporary objects from the old heritage to the contemporary urban architecture. Shin was shortlisted for the Artist of the year of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in 2013 and was selected as an Established Artist for Arko Art Center in 2018 to hold a solo exhibition. Internationally, she held projects in the British Museum in 2004 and 2007 and presented an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2017. Her recent exhibitions in Korea include Meekyoung Shin: Abstract Matters (CR Collective, Seoul, 2021), 10th Yeosu International Art Festival Say the Unsaybles (2020), and King Sejong and Music Chiwhapyeong (Presidential Archives, Sejong, 2019).
Since I think of a sense that firmly fixes the flowing moments of memory as a fragrance, I have involved fragrances in my works for more than 20 years. The memory and senses in the passing of time and the remembrance of civilization are engraved in mind with fragrances, and those times are recalled when such similar fragrances float around the end of my nose. Marcel Proust, a French writer, recalls an episode from his childhood with his aunt after tasting a madeleine dipped in tea on a winter day. This memory of home in his childhood led to him writing Remembrance of Things Past (or In Search of Lost Time), one of his representative works. Afterward, the sudden, involuntary evocation of a memory brought forth by a fragrance has been called the “Proust phenomenon.”
This project, created by building lumps of soap which reminds us of solidified time in an architectural structure by actively using a fragrance as one element of the work, provides the viewers with an opportunity to experience a memory of a fragrance that can be engraved in our mind. The project consisting of 15 tonnes of lumps of soap resembles an architectural structure that is either falling down or being built up at any given site the viewers have visited. It can recall a memory or evoke a time when they feel a similar scent. They can also witness the physical temporality from the weathering of a massive structure of soap that we cannot confront in our daily life. This project presented in Gwangju, a city of light, stands for a halted time and the frozen instant of time. The fragrance that the brain perceives stimulates strong images and emotions and allows the viewers to stroll through the Sensory Garden while experiencing time passing from summer to winter for a prolonged moment. According to the production plan, the lumps of soap in the size of stone that can be found in a typical stone construction are produced by casting
and will be installed on the site after going through various experimental methods. Before installing the lump of soap, LED lighting is to be installed on the floor by establishing the electronic equipment. The LED lighting installed to project the vast lump of soap will be floodlit onto the lump with translucent light. The plan for the small well is that it will be made in a soap lump hold scent. The 15 tonnes of soap has already been produced by combining the scents.