Nayeong Jeong celebrated the successful completion of her Slade PhD viva the day before with a performance at the opening of the group exhibition “A Dance of Scales”, at Assembly Point in Peckham. Jeong’s work often involves a performative element, and also often involves the use of clay not only as a creative medium but also as a metaphor of place, coming as it does from the ground in a particular location. For an itinerant ceramic artist, use of and interaction with the local clays is a way of connecting very physically with the new location in which he or she is residing for whatever length of time.
The clay Jeong used in Repeat after “The End of the World” (2019) was red and gritty: as red as the sandstone cliffs in Devon. In the performance, she comes to the centre of the room with small blocks of clay carried in a white sheet, and after a brief pause she starts rolling the clay first into sausage-like lengths, then combining the individual pieces into one big clay rope, which she hands to the audience. Inevitably, the rope breaks, and the audience pass the individual pieces to each other, breaking them into ever smaller pieces. Jeong then gathers the pieces back from the audience, combining them into a well-kneaded dough-like lump. As curators Giulia Menegale and Alice-Anne Psaltis observe: the performance is a “lingering presence that prompts audiences to sense their way through culturally diverse environments.”
Jeong’s other work in the exhibition is 100 Korean Finger Prints (2016), a video documentation of a performance explained by curators Giulia Menegale and Alice-Anne Psaltis as follows:
She explores the notion of home in relation to her experiences as a mixed cultured person. For the Korean artist who lives between New York and London, “home becomes a path to be forged, rather than a place to rest.” Jeong enacts this journey within a built enclosure that resembles a Um-jjip (traditional Korean pit-dwelling). The culturally specific structure is lined with clay, a “borderless material,” and holds hanging silicone moulds that constitute “one hundred Korean fingers.” Through imprinting the fingers into the clay, Jeong performs her singularitry as part of an active plurality.
Note: the artist video in the background of the above YouTube clip is Dad Dance 2019, a single channel looped video by Teal Griffin. “A Dance of Scales” was at Assembly Point, London SE15 5TJ, Friday 28 – Sunday 30 June 2019.