Artist ‘matches’ bones with beauty

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Artist ‘matches’ bones with beauty

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A high heel made of fish bones by Choi Chan-mi. Provided by the artist


Like many before her, artist Choi Chan-mi has been exploring the question “what is true beauty?” But Choi’s solo exhibition, “Revival,” takes something that would normally be discarded as trash and matches it with elegance.

Over the course of nine months, she collected fish bones at the Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market to achieve this goal.

“With the right combination, I wanted to show that even pieces of trash could be valued as luxury items,” says Choi in an artist’s note for her exhibition. “That is why my pieces were named like the serial numbers you would normally see on brand name bags and other items.”

The artist claims that anything made by nature or a divine power has a particular beauty about it. Even leftovers from maeuntang, a Korean spicy fish soup, has an attractive side.

“My hands are not for making, but matching,” says Choi. “Through the process of matching, I want to revive something that was completely dead and further bring out the ultimate value of that certain subject.”

For Choi, the public’s common attitudes on trash are not only regrettable but also wasteful.

The outcome of her efforts correspond to her purpose. Not many would connect a beautiful dress or desirable shoe to discarded fish bones.

Rather than hiding the fish bones in her creations, they are emphasized and refined to show her viewers the diverse colors and shapes that each bone has.

This emphasizes her intention to provide the lesson that even trash is worthy.

“Choi’s definition of beauty is a very ancient Asian concept of the virtues that a person should have,” says Kim Jong-gil, an art critic.

“Through her continuous efforts of putting together the bones and separating them, she emphasizes the ever-changing standard of what is considered as beautiful - and the futility of it,” Kim added.

A piece made to look like a wedding dress - CMDR10102711 - used over 530 scallops and 725 fish.

*The exhibition will be held from Oct. 27 to Nov. 2 at the Cyart Gallery located in Anguk-dong, Seoul. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays, and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call (02) 3141-8842 or visit www.cyartgallery.com.


By Hannah Kim contributing writer [estyle@joongang.co.kr]

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