The Archives: Yoon Ji Seon
Andrea Blanch: When did you begin photographing?
Yoon Ji Seon: My first solo exhibition was 1999, and from that time I’ve done a lot of photo work.
AB: Did you go to art school or are you self-taught? Did you start out as a photographer? I want to know the progression.
YJS: I graduated from an art school called Hannam University in Daejeon, a city in the middle of South Korea. I started with painting, but it was too difficult. Because art has a long history, and many different things have been done already. Monet and Cézanne had already done everything what I wanted to do. Every time I painted, I felt like I was copying their work. So I started to use photography, because you can see what you want exactly from the photograph.
AB: What was you very first photograph?
YJS: I was posing with my hands. I made my hands look like a vagina. It was my hands with men’s legs, because men’s legs are very hairy.
AB. OK. So, how did you make the transition to using thread?
YJS: I had been using photography for a long time and sometimes, I would make a little hole in the photo and put some hair. I planted hair in the photo and I’d also make tiny holes in the photo with an acupuncture needle. It was hard because it’s so tiny, and I had to make thousands of thousands of holes. I just accidentally saw a sewing machine, and you know, there’s a needle in the sewing machine. So I thought it would be easier to make holes in the photo using a sewing machine.
AB: Did you sew before?
YJS: I never learned how to sew with a sewing machine. I tried to make stitches, and I made lot of mistakes. I mostly learned from the mistakes. It’s not normal sewing, like for clothes. It’s very different from that kind of sewing. The sewing machine broke many times. The man who fixes the machine, he insisted that I stop. I was torturing the sewing machine. It’s not a common way to use it. At the beginning, I’d stitch by hand, but those were small pieces. Now that my work is getting bigger and thicker, I mostly use the machine.
AB: How long is the process? For example, the big one on the back wall [Rag Face #14001 (2014)], how long did that take?
YJS: I spent about 15 hours per day, for three months. I hurt my neck from that work. And I had insomnia, because I couldn’t stop. Imagine, the sewing machine’s on this side, and the work is this big, and I had to roll it while I was working. My room is very small, so I couldn’t unroll it to see the work. I had to remember everything I did. That’s why I couldn’t stop working. And that’s why I didn’t sleep.
To read the full interview with Seon visit our 13th issue here