[VIEWPOINT]Meditations on ourselvesI received a phone call last Saturday afternoon as I was looking around art galleries in Chelsea.
I was wondering who it could be on a Saturday and answered the call to find that it was a Wall Street Journal reporter. That was when I remembered the favor that Amanda from Future Perfect had asked of me a few days earlier. Future Perfect is a furniture company that worked with me to redecorate my office. Amanda had asked if I would do an interview with the Wall Street Journal about the furniture designer, Jason Miller. The reason I was asked to do the interview was probably because I had bought a few of the designer’s pieces for my office, and had overtly rattled on about how I was a fan of his. I asked the reporter to call back in an hour and finished looking through the Nan Goldin display at the Matthew Mark gallery. I then went to a nearby coffee shop, ordered an iced tea and sat in a chair to think about what I would say in the interview.
If there is a line between art and design, I would say that Jason Miller is dangerously balanced on that line. Miller makes things that can be used in everyday life and sells them. But the things that he makes can give a prickly impression.
For example, there is the “Beautifully Broken” (his name for it) vase. The vase is a simple cylinder-shaped glass vase that can be used to arrange flowers in. However the vase is broken. To be exact, it has been broken and put together again. In other words, the vase was intentionally and cautiously broken by the designer, and then carefully put back together again. Colors are added where the pieces have been put back together. Colors of blue, red and black have been exquisitely smeared into places. It is almost as if some mysterious spirit has stuck the broken parts together again.
A vase may still have the fragrance of flowers, but it is not a vase anymore if it is broken. Broken vases need to be thrown out. That is a basic characteristic of a vase. Therefore, for a vase that was once broken to be a vase again is in itself a great statement.
The artwork shows its own characteristic that is contradictory to its existence by saying, “It’s broken but it’s a vase.” That is why it appears prickly. However, it also bluntly displays its own weakness and relates a message of rejuvenation. And in a beautiful way, I might add.
The strange thing about this vase is that it is not that pretty when it has flowers in it. It was born to hold flowers, but when flowers are put in it, it loses its essential force. Its statement of existence is so strong that when the utility that the world demands of it is added, it seems to lose a little bit of that existence. In this way, Jason Miller’s works are things made to be used but that, at the same time, reject being used.
People are born to this world with a purpose too. But just like Jason Miller’s vase, people too are weak beings with strong statements. Of course it is important to do all that you can in your position as an office worker, housewife, scholar, editor, student, soldier, politician, celebrity or reporter, and to make a lot of money and succeed, but it is also important to safeguard your own heartrending statements that might get lost in the process.
Don’t we sometimes forget what kind of a “vase” we are because we are too busy holding the “flowers” that come our way? Aren’t we sometimes unaware of how we are broken, if we are broken, or how right we are if we are okay?
I think that sometimes it’s okay to get rid of all the “flowers” we are holding and simply stay where we are, especially on a weekend afternoon.
Of course I couldn’t say all this to the Wall Street Journal reporter Miss Ashley but, after I hung up the phone, I spent the rest of my Saturday afternoon alone, thinking about such things.
* The writer is a painter. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Park Sang-mi
More in Columns
An unjust society
International law is the answer
[20th Anniversary] New decade, new home
[20th Anniversary] First draft of Korea's history, day by day, over the past two decades
[20th Anniversary] A new form of globalism is on the rise