Koo Jeong-A b. 1967, Seoul
Crushed aspirin, wood, and blue light
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Purchased with funds contributed by the Young Collectors Council, 2003
Koo Jeong-a. Photo: courtesy Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris
Sometimes you don’t need five tons of Cor-ten steel or an array of special effects to command a gallery space. The light from the window and dust gathering on the floor are enough; besides, it’s often what is hidden or nearly absent that we find most compelling. Using quiet, almost imperceptible means, Koo Jeong-A subtly intervenes in existing locations by altering the dimensions, ambience, and contents of a given space. Noticing one of her works might, for example, be contingent simply upon registering the sudden change of illumination in a room. Her installations and sculptures, which resemble miniature landscapes or suggest enigmatic narrative tableaux, are made from fragile and often unlikely materials: crumpled paper, discarded children’s toys, or hundreds of cigarettes neatly stacked in rows. The snowy-white contours of Oslo (1998), comprised of piles of crushed aspirin, are illuminated by a spotlight, like mountain peaks beneath a cold, northern light. Another delicate work constructed from sugar cubes and cardboard is small enough to rest on a window sill, while others, like Oslo, despite taking up a mere corner of the physical space, can occupy an entire room by virtue of their very quietude.