> Cheonggukjang ‘Dead Body Soup’

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Cheonggukjang ‘Dead Body Soup’ Vessel I, II, III, IV, 2013

Over the past five centuries, numerous writers, from Michel de Montaigne to Jonathan Swift and Ruth Benedict, have used cannibal imagery to express critical perspectives on Western culture and as a rhetorical device for inverting conventional boundaries of civilization and morality. The imagery of cannibalism is used in this work as a metaphor for hostility, ambivalence and desires for dominance as well as to provoke the inversion of conventional boundaries of civilization and morality. By juxtaposing imagery of cannibalistic practice onto bone china plates in a manner usually associated with pleasant decorative Delft or Wedgwood tableware, the artist imbues the work with an uncanny feeling, merging brutality and delicacy, horror and beauty as well as a sense of ambiguity and displacement. The materials used -bone china and ink- evoke connections with the human body and tattoos. The images used in the Cheonggukjang ‘Dead Body Soup’ Vessel series, are based on Theodor De Bry’s illustrations (1528-98) who had himself used Hans Staden’s woodprints as a source. Staden’s woodprints narrated his voyage in South America in 1548 during which time he was allegedly kidnapped by a Tupinamba tribe who was involved in anthropophagic practices. This act of redrawing these images also connects the work conceptually to a metaphorical cannibalization of the work by the artist Cecilia Bullo. This work took part in a performative event The Scarcity Banquet in June 8, 2013 with MOUTH, Create Ireland and the South Korean Society Ireland which was part of the The Prosperity  Project: Land by Jesse  Jones.

Cheonggukjang is the name of a South Korean dish made with briefly fermented soybean paste which gives it a strong ammonia odor. It has earned the nickname “Dead Body Soup” from a story in which two Korean exchange students were living in Germany in an apartment and one day they started to cook cheonggukjang, the  smell was so strong that their neighbors called the police thinking that they had a dead body in their house.


 

 

Cheonggukjang ‘Dead Body Soup’ Vessel I, II, III, IV
Bone China, Ink
28 X28X 2cm each, 2013