Resonating Mountains

Installation ( 48 ceramic pieces)
a book with text and photography
(you can read here)

at the exhibition “Verzacht verleden”
together with Petra Ipenburg and Harma de Pont
at Galerie in de Molen, Wassenaar

Petra Ipenburg, Soonhwa Kang and Harma de Pont have in common that they create conceptual, highly personal and abstract work. 

Softened past means for them that the memories can be softened by sharing it and giving it attention. The comprehension of ‘how it was’ increases and makes it less black/ white, good/bad, positive/negative. 

Profound events can reverberate in the present. Petra, Soonhwa and Harma continually explore echoes of the past all in their own way. A part of their exploration is presented in this collective exhibition. 

Resonating mountains

My grandparents immigrated to Japan from South Korea in their teenage years and they tried their best to integrate into Japanese society. Despite being born in Japan, my second generation parents dug into their roots and tried to retain their Korean heritage. Then there was me. I struggled with my identity as a third generation Korean/Japanese born and raised in Japan.

I remember thinking, I speak Japanese and I look similar to my friend next to me, but  I did things differently. The way I dressed at New Year, how I addressed my parents, how I practised memorial ceremonies and what I ate at home. I felt like an outsider but at the same time I felt like my differences were special.

My grandmother found beauty in Japanese kimonos and ikebana while my parents would admire Korean folk art such as ceramics, wooden sculptures and ink paintings. These objects made them feel rooted to the country where they originated. I think my grandparents and parents’ desire was neither to be Japanese or Korean but were just trying to find a way to feel like they belong just as I am continuing to do today.

The history of Korean Japanese was not often talked about or written about in Japan. I always felt like I was missing something and that feeling grew stronger over time. When I lost my grandmother, who was the only person who shared her stories in Korea with me, I had a heartbreaking feeling that I had also lost my connections to my roots. The sense of loss urged me to find out more about my family history/ancestors and so I flew to South Korea. 

For the first time in my life I was able to visit the house of my great grandparents, the little pier where my grandfather boarded a boat to get to Japan and to pay my respects at the resting place of many generations of my family. 

For this exhibition, I have made 48 ceramic mountains each representing every year of my life. 

Everybody, everything, every experience that has affected who I am, are like echoes that resonate through the mountain range of my life.