Fade I Boney Petal
The Chinese hieroglyph for "nothingness" is certainly not, as one might imagine, a simple space between two other characters. Rather, it is a much more complicated looking sign: 無. It is often said that one can see in this character the scaffolding of a burned down house. Thus, the nothingness can only be illustrated by the process of becoming, of disappearing. Or, it is always the thing left behind that informs about what has been lost, and vice versa. Joohee Han’s work-cycles Fade and Bony Petals can also be read as hieroglyphic representations of an eternal circulation between life and death.
The living has long since left the white enclosures in Fade. That which had filled the things with warmth and breath is now present only through its absence. Hung around the neck, the framework produces a feeling of lightness approximating the evaporation of heartache. Suddenly, almost for the first time, one feels the weight of air. Coddled carefully in the hands, it reminds of the beautiful bodies of small animals that have fallen asleep. When our gaze finally passes through it, the empty space experiences the extent to which it is closed; then soon thereafter just how the closed merges gently into the open.
Flowers also have bones, as we learn in the cycle Bony Petals. Seen as if through a metaphysical X-ray, one discovers in them the downside of all that lives: the realm of death. Even in this seemingly monotonous world there is plenty of movement. In the necklace, for example, one can follow a whole cycle of change as death rises from the centre, becoming ever more minuscule, dissolving into nothing (thus, into life?). In this way, death is also subject to life – the dead must always return to the living. This is the justice in the course of things, the meaning of the ancient doctrine of the transmigration of souls.
Text by Sool Park
© 2021 by Joohee Han