[TRANSLATIONS] “The Story of Bob” – Yoo Ah In’s Letter For Studio Concrete “They Live” Exhibition
This is Yoo Ah In’s own writings/letter for “They Live” Exhibition in Studio Concrete (a collaboration exhibition with Verythings Studio), September 10, 2016.
The title is “Concrete Letter”. This letter was showed in the exhibition, and Yoo Ah In posted it in his instagram too. (Read the article about this exhibition here)
Yoo Ah In is known for his talent in writing. As our sassy translator fellow said, the dude knows his shit when it comes to writing. He’s a master at adding a personal touch to what could be a bland or boring topic. He knows how to make things interesting; by adding his voice or life to the narrative. He adds a simple story with a touching sad ending, all woven perfectly within the essay.
As promised, here’s the Concrete’s Letter translation. Translated by our gorgeous fellow translator from Yoo Ah In International Fans Community
“Have we ever looked deeply into ‘nature thingies’?”
VERYTHINGS proposes a hot romance with nature. A few months ago, these artists, writer Kim Hoon and Shin Seon Hye, who are willing to express their own nature, thought of a way to present the fascinating and harmonious blend of natural objects and man-made structures to the world through Studio Concrete. With these questions in mind, I pictured today’s exhibition.
Whether in the form of a vacation resort scenery, or home décor objects, or at least as a means to brag on social media, “going natural” has emerged as a new fad. Living in Seoul for 14 years, I’ve been in disguise as an urban man, putting on this so-called ‘mask’. Unintentionally and quite naturally, I’ve changed into someone who is trying to fulfill the pretentious and expensive desires of the urban city . For the first time ever, I’ve started to look at nature with a different perspective.
Once a year, like a bored lover, I used to bid goodbye to my old house, and move into a new one that is bigger, higher, and more sophisticated. A house that exudes more of that “new and fresh house” scent. Then, once again, I used to abandon that house and start all over again. Until Spring 2016, and at a certain stage, I could not see the end of this desire to have what people call “garden”, the infinitely unfamiliar “land” within the walls of my house. The sound of the wind blowing , the willow breeze in the garden outside the window would put me to sleep. This very sound of life would also wake me up. Perhaps, I’ve come across that kind of sounds in my room countless of times before? I don’t know. But thanks to these meaningless annoying sounds of nature, within the walls of my house, I’ve realized for the first time that I’ve been tilting my ears, listening to the sounds of vanity [material life] for too long. As a result, it became hard for me to value those sounds of nature.
With the excitement about the new house, I went from shop to shop trying to follow the rather cool trend that is “Urban Green Life”. I finally bought a Jamaican tree, which was taller and bigger than me, high enough to touch the ceiling. I placed it at the center of the living room. And Just like people who adopt pet dogs, I’ve named this fat friend: ‘BOB’. I watered it, called it by its name, and greeted it. Sometimes I just stared at it vacantly and was totally lost in thought. Sometimes, Bob was the one that would start up the conversation. However, a strange white cottony chunks started piling up on Bob’s leaves. And just like that, my love for Bob, that came over me too fast, has transformed into feelings of boredom and inconvenience. And soon after, that one tree, which personified “child play” to me, met a familiar sad ending.
What Bob’s body suffered from was not the case of having accumulated dust. It was having the mealybugs which climbed up from the roots to the branches. That being the case, I used the rest of my affection for ‘it’ by placing it under the sun to get rid of the bugs. I let the rain wash them away, and repeated the process several times. A few days later, I returned my friend and his mealybugs back to his original home in Cheongdam. After my request for a refund has been denied, Bob, who used to be bundled up in my house, was exchanged at the store with cushions, vases, plates, and the likes. Now I wonder: was the Cheongdam-dong Collect Shop the right place for Bob?! More than that, I wonder: what places has Bob been to [after my house]? How does Bob look like now?
I remember having conversations with him [Bob] at my house. And these conversations will remain a secret.
One day, I pulled an all-nighter working on the exhibition [“They Live” Exhibition]. The willow trees that were chosen for the gardening construction at the exhibition were reverberating with sounds of comfort. I welcomed their noise, and with all my remaining strength, and via this “They Live” exhibition, I sent a confession to my friend [Bob]. I told him that I didn’t realize ‘What he has given to me’. I didn’t know how worthy Bob has been. That friend was a priceless treasure to me, a playmate, and a source for healing.
When we stop moving, and look, for the first time, at the contradictions in different areas of life, we realize that no matter how we perceive untruthfulness, in front of the universe, we all desperately crave for affection, and I call that ‘nature’. Although I don’t know whether I’m ‘hip’ enough to be called a ‘nature person’, but wouldn’t be reasonable enough for me to be associated with ‘Urban Life’ or ‘Urban Nature’?
Mushrooms are not considered as ornamental nature. For some people, they might be perceived as merely disgusting creatures. To the people at VERYTHINGS, who created the mushroom village, I send you my deepest thanks for allowing me to have that confession. And those mushrooms, that are caught into the lovely trap of “humility and purity”, and don’t know how to boast their beauty to the world, I want to use my hands to show them off. We, Studio Concrete, are extremely honored to be able to introduce this great piece to the city.
In addition, there’s one warning. If you happen to be a strong believer in the philosophy of modern arts, don’t you dare to act condescendingly in the presence of the art of nature.
We can never be absolutely perfect. Each of us has a different way of thinking. Each of us has different desires. Nevertheless, when we are in nature, we just have to live accordingly. All these contradictions in the relationships of what is called ‘us’ and ‘nature’ will be, by all means, revealed through this exhibition THEY LIVE. Via this exhibition, I’d like to ask this question to myself and all the people of the city:
“We and ‘nature’. We as ‘part of’ it. Have we ever looked deeply into that for once?”.
They live, we live.
Ｆｏｕｎｄｅｒ Uhm Hong Sik [Yoo Ah In]
In his letter, Yoo Ah In mentioned “mealybugs” who took his friend Bob’s life. And we recall on May 30th he posted this creature’s photo in his instagram too, with caption “#mealybugs ^^^^^^^^^”.
Apparently, this picture was taken from Korean search engine. So, we presume he was thinking of saving his buddy Bob who suffered from mealybugs by searching for the solution through internet ^^
Though he couldn’t save Bob, it was so touching that he took Bob in his self-reflections. Because taking every bit of his life even to the mundane in front of the mirror is what he always does.
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Photo: Yoo Ah In for Veak Seoul