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Library: Chun Woojung at the Venice Biennale

Details of one of the Collateral Events at Venice. Text courtesy of curator James Putnam

Chun WoojungLibrary
Chun Woo-jung (천우정)

53rd International Art Exhibition
La Biennale di Venezia Collateral Event

curated by James Putnam

“The universe (which others call the Library)…”
Jorge Luis Borges, The Library of Babel

The library is a potent metaphor for knowledge that evokes images of organization, study, research and discovery. Libraries build relationships and connections and act as catalysts or laboratories for creative thoughts. Chun’s project is inspired in Gervasuti Foundation part by Jorge Luis Borges’ celebrated text, The Library of Babel that compares the library to the universe with the grand idea that it is a repository for all knowledge and every individual truth. The universe is governed by an order that we can perceive only partially yet it evokes ideas of the infinite and the eternal – like matter it is neither created nor destroyed – it just is. The “Crimson Hexagon”, in Borges’ library is a book containing universal knowledge that will invest its reader with a power akin to God. The only the problem is that this book cannot be found although it exists somewhere in the library. The librarian’s relentless search for the source of universal wisdom is somehow parallel to the human condition itself – a quest that will inevitably remain unfulfilled.

Chun’s installation in a former artisan’s workshop of the Gervasuti Foundation is an imagined library space with bookshelves, desks, cabinets and other familiar devices – recognizable as symbols of secured and organized knowledge. Yet this archetypal image quickly dissolves to present a rich amalgam of strange and unclassifiable material. So within this place where seemingly all knowledge resides, her project also focuses on the image of a library as a place of persistent search for elusive, unanswered questions – unsolved theories, unexplained narra- tives, incomplete quests and unresolved philosophical debates. The ‘bookshelves’ are intriguing anthropomorphic structures that appear to be ancient and worn out. The mysterious diverse objects they display represent a distillation of memories, accumulated information, ideas and interests – an ambiguous ever-growing and unbounded entity. Chun’s ‘library books’ seem like ghosts, possessing a persistent force of memory that refuses to be forgotten, carrying histories, fictions, emotions and knowledge suspended in time.

(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

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