17 December 2023

Hollow Mountain

Semin Hong traces the space
between homes


by Kate Mothes

South Korean artist Semin Hong was born in Pennsylvania and lived in different parts of the U.S. before moving to Seoul to pursue a BFA. Currently based in London where she has her studio at the Bomb Art Factory Foundation, the artist delves into the myriad meanings and associations with home. An ongoing series of installations titled Spatial Nostalgia explores architectural aspects of home and the fleeting experiences that concentrate over time and become what she describes as “a repository of memory that works as an instrument of generalised nostalgia.”

Hong’s multidisciplinary practice spans video, installation, photography, and sculpture, from weaving together printed fabrics into blanket-like textiles in Reconciled Home to constructing site-specific shelters from found materials in the corners of gallery spaces. She says, “Although we often begin obtaining attachment to our home with concrete and specific images, the house itself becomes a public archive of unverified, irretrievable, oneiric sentiments.”

Spatial Nostalgia also references migration, both in the process of physically inhabiting different homes and the effects that frequent transitions to new spaces impress on the body and mind over time. In her fabric installations, she contrasts the simple comforts of bedsheet forts built in the living room against the essential shelter that temporary tents and structures provide to people displaced from their homes.

Hong considers the sensory and emotional experiences of getting used to new houses and apartments, considering phrases like “paper-thin” as a way to describe low-quality soundproofing in walls between flats. In the video “Hollow Mountain and Paper Thin Apartment,” Hong revisits her experience living in South Korea, taking regular walks up a local mountain as she reflects on the practice of removing portions of them to make room for more apartment buildings. Carved out to provide more level land, nature is further intruded on by urban development, challenging even the mountain’s physical and symbolic characteristics of permanence.

Deeply personal imagery is incorporated into into Hong’s work, including images woven into pieces in the Reconciled Home series of featureless rented apartments in North Carolina when she had just moved in, or images of her grandfather before he passed away from cancer. She aims “to unite different perceptions of her home from different times, and hopes to reconcile with past traumas linked to the place.”

Hong’s work will be part of the exhibition Everything Is Connected in Life: Art and Wellbeing at Gerald Moore Gallery in London, which opens January 11, 2024, and continues through February 4. Find more work on the artist’s website and Instagram.

All images © Semin Hong

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