Advertisement

Sophie Jung

Jung.jpg

Sophie Jung  Nothing, It Just Waves, 2013,  mixed media, dimensions variable

Sophie Jung Nothing, It Just Waves, 2013, mixed media, dimensions variable

We might imagine Sophie Jung, an artist much concerned with word games, verbal slippages and lexical happy accidents, incanting the title of her charming, disarming exhibition ‘Learning About Heraldry’ over and over to herself, testing its every term, its every phoneme, until it slides from her grasp like a bar of wet soap. ‘Heraldry’ suggests coats of arms, and each of the eight sculptural assemblages on show at Ceri Hand Gallery resembled, with their coded admixtures of language and imagery, something close to emblematic devices. Jung’s title, though, also evoked the figure of the herald. Each fitted out with an iPod Shuffle and a pair of ear-buds, the works in the exhibition appeared to be accompanied by their own educative audio-guide, through which their presence might be formally announced, and their meaning might be blazoned. Pressing the ear buds in, visitors were instead buoyed on zephyrs of thought, gusts of song and flights of verbal fancy, all delivered in Jung’s astonished pan-European tones. I got to thinking of the messenger god Mercury, patron of writers and trickster par excellence, whose very name promises fluidity where we might ordinarily expect something solid and fixed.

Adopting what Jung self-mockingly describes, in the audio of her sculpture Learning About Heraldry (all works 2013), as ‘the Glasgow lean […], the contemporary tilt’, many of the pieces in her show were propped against the gallery walls, like garden implements in a cobwebbed shed. In Notice Otis, a spider sat atop a length of copper pipe, the other end of which was slotted inside a conch shell. On the accompanying soundtrack, Jung delivered a snatch of Roy Orbison’s 1963 ‘In Dreams’ (‘a candy-coloured clown they call the sandman / Tiptoes to my room every night’), guiding the viewer’s eyes down towards several bags of brightly hued plaster ‘stardust’ on the floor, then asking, ‘Did you know we eat eight spiders per night?’, before breaking into a series of stage coughs. Memory played a role in Easy Share, in which a digital photo frame screened images of unicorns, soundtracked by excerpts from Don Draper’s famous Kodak Carousel pitch in the first season of Mad Men (2007): ‘This device […] lets us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know we are loved.’ Over these words, Jung uttered ‘Fuck yeah!’ in the manner of a giddy DVD commentary. Beside the screen stood a Perspex CD stand adorned with a deflated handball, several shells, an origami duck and what the gallery listed as a ‘prosperity rock’. Might we take these items to be mementoes, part of a very personal heraldry? What, then, of the work’s title, Easy Share? Sharing every mote of one’s life, in a world of social media, is indeed easy, although in the company of so many carouselling solipsists, quite who is looking at, or learning from, one’s digital coat of arms remains moot.

In Stewie’s Drawing, three Air Dough casts of a hand giving a Facebook-like thumbs-up were positioned high above three tiny projectors, each screening a scene from Family Guy (1999–ongoing), in which the camply sophisticated, intellectually self-regarding and often malevolent baby, Stewie, draws a picture for his dumb-ass working-class parents, who break into laughter at its ‘babyish’ qualities. This is a joke not only about the gap between artistic hopes and audience reception, but also about the difficulty of any communication between one soul and another. Jung’s solution – exemplified in her video wwwhydontitellyousomethi.ng, in which she speaks direct into a webcam fitted with a Rorschach filter – is seduction, sense be damned. As she flits from human alarm clocks to the child-labour practices of high-street clothiers, from a bank ad featuring a priapic corn cob to the pleasing effects of a yoga position on her own behind, what carries the piece is not narrative propulsion, but her breathless, half-daffy, half-sexy demeanour. Contemporary heraldry, it seems, is not about content, but character. Like liquid mercury, it is ungraspable. We can only watch it shine.

Tom Morton is a writer, independent curator and contributing editor for frieze, based in Rochester, UK.

Issue 161

First published in Issue 161

March 2014
Advertisement

Most Read

Criticism of the show at the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest comes alongside a nationalist reshaping of the...
A retrospective at Munich's Museum Brandhorst charts the artist's career from the 1980s to the present, from 'fem-trash...
At the National Theatre of Wales, a performance alive with wild, tactile descriptions compels comparison between the...
There are perils in deploying bigotry to score political points, but meanings also shift from West to East
‘It’s ridiculous. It’s Picasso’: social media platform to review nudity policy after blocking Montreal Museum of Fine...
Poland’s feminist ‘Bison Ladies’ storm the Japanese artist’s Warsaw exhibition in solidarity with longtime model Kaori’...
An art historian and leading Leonardo expert has cast doubt on the painting’s attribution
How will the Black Panther writer, known for his landmark critical assessments of race, take on the quintessential...
The dissident artist has posted a series of videos on Instagram documenting diggers demolishing his studio in the...
In further news: artists for Planned Parenthood; US court rules on Nazi-looted Cranachs; Munich’s Haus der Kunst...
A mother’s death, a father’s disinterest: Jean Frémon’s semi-factual biography of the artist captures a life beyond...
Jostling with its loud festival neighbours, the UK’s best attended annual visual art festival conducts a polyphonic...
It’s not clear who destroyed the project – part of the Liverpool Biennial – which names those who have died trying to...
Dating from 1949 to the early 1960s, the works which grace the stately home feel comfortable in the ostentatious pomp...
The disconnect between public museum programming and private hire couldn’t be starker – it’s time for the arts to...
In further news: Angela Gulbenkian sued over Kusama pumpkin; and Pussy Riot re-arrested immediately after release from...
With Art Week in town, a guide to the best exhibitions to see, from sonic surveillance to Ronnie van Hout’s showdown...
Moving between figuration and abstraction, the New York-based painter and teacher made work about in-between spaces and...
Trump’s State Department is more than 3 months late in announcing its national pavilion – testament to the chaos...
The continued dominance of UK-US writers makes a mockery of the Man Booker’s ‘global outlook’
The fashion photographer has been accused on Twitter of ripping off another artist – with both represented by the same...
Katharina Cibulka has stitched ‘As long as the art market is a boys’ club, I will be a feminist,’ across her alma mater...
The punk artists’s invasion of the pitch during the Croatia vs. France match reminded us what Russia’s new ‘normality’...
In further news: Brexit voters avoid arts; New York libraries’s culture pass unlocks museums; Grayson Perry-backed...
If artificial intelligence were ever to achieve sentience, could it feasibly produce art? (And would it be good?)
Nods to the game in World Cup celebrations show how dance has gone viral – but unwittingly instrumentalized for...
‘What is being exhibited at Manifesta, above all, is Palermo itself’
With the 12th edition of the itinerant European biennial opening in Palermo, what do local artists, curators and...
The curators seem set to ask, ‘how civilized is the world’s current state of affairs?’

On View

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

April 2018

frieze magazine

May 2018

frieze magazine

June - August 2018