〈Fluctuations, Brightness in the Darkness〉, 2023.

Drawing, cold wax medium on paper, graphite powder, 70.5×104cm (12).
Commissioned by Asia Culture Center. Courtesy of the artist.

Dongju Kang focuses on her relationship with place. Her paintings record the sensorial traces of the places she mainly spends time, and documents it changes over time. Fluctuations, Brightness in the Darkness is a drawing about the fluid velocity of Han River. The Han River, a site for walking and running for many residents of Seoul today, is a product of the manmade process of urban development. However, Kang’s work flows in the opposite direction of such artificial process, with the artist discovering Bamseom Island and its recovery with the natural flow of the river. Bamseom Island is one of many islands that disappeared during the development of Yeouido in the 1960s when many islands were exploded in order to expand the estuary to prevent the flooding of the river and to secure stone material to build an embankment. Decades later, however, Bamseom Island reappeared, six times larger than its original size, as soil and sand accumulated in the rock layer below the surface. Soon after, reeds and willow trees sprouted and waterfowls began to inhabit the island. The artist tries to capture the flow of the river—which has steadily paralleled the history of development—as a source of recovery and resistance. This work is paintings which capture 48 seconds of the city’s light being reflected on the surface of the river, spread lightly to the outside the frame in a video of Han River at night. 48 seconds from the video is split by the second, and the flow of light is accumulated in 48 layers into one single surface in the work. The record of this flow signifies that the places we walk are charged with endless tension and changes, in the same way that walking along the Han River reminds us of the confrontations between natural and artificial developments

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