Whenever we say art, the usual things that come to mind would be something that embodies beauty, grace, tranquility or other pleasant things that can provide us comfort. Seldom will you see an artist be inspired by objects or emotions that are based on negative ideas such as pain or suffering. But there are rare cases where this does happen in real life.
Take for example Korean artist Seo, Young-Deok and his sculptures made from chains. Contrary to common sculptors, the subjects of most of Seo’s works are negative human emotions depicting pain and suffering, and with faces showing stern expressions. In his latest exhibit entitled Dystopia – Bacteria are Us, the main pieces are made up of different kinds of chains that are modeled, casted and welded together to resemble the body of a human being or parts of it.
According to Seo, Young-Deok, the title of the exhibit is his analogy of how the human body is corrupted by the destructive substances found in our environment. On his point of view, the chains in his sculpture represent the individual cells that make up the body and that each chain is already contaminated by man’s vanity and ill-judged consumption habits. Furthermore, Seo believes that majority of his works represent the current condition of the modern man’s body – that is, a vessel that is pristine and perfect on the outside but damaged on the inside.
His perception of what the current condition of the human body is greatly influenced by the difference of the environment he has lived in. Growing up in Korea’s country side, Seo was used to a very quiet and peaceful way of line which all changed when he moved to Seoul to enter college. In Seoul, he experienced a form of culture shock (and as he says it, a bit of fear) after seeing how people in the capital move and deal with their everyday lives in a completely different manner compared to people living in the rural areas.
In his blog, he describes this experience as being a zombie contaminated by a virus, moving and working based on their environments needs with a complete disregard to living life to the fullest. He hopes that his work can act as a mirror to the modern man and where people can find and see themselves and their lifestyle to possibly create a sense of awareness and urgency to improve.
Here are a few examples of his work from his exhibition – Dystopia – Bacteria are Us.
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