Ji Yeo: It Will Hurt A Little at CCNY

Image above: At Baxter St. at CCNY during the opening night. 


Baxter St at CCNY presented on 30th of April a solo exhibition by artist and 2014 Workspace Resident, Ji Yeo. The It Will Hurt A Little project introduces interiors of plastic surgery clinics in Seoul. The lens explores clinics from luxurious receptions to employee-only zones—all while the clinic is empty, with no patients in the building except in recovery rooms. For over a decade, Ji Yeo has witnessed the plastic surgery industry in South Korea grow dramatically. Like many Koreans, her interest in cosmetic surgery began at a young age, with a desire to have procedures done on herself. Since then, cosmetic surgery has come to be treated more as a necessary routine than as a carefully considered option. South Koreans now have more plastic surgery than any other nation in the world, with more than one in five South Korean women having had cosmetic work done. In a global industry of tens of millions of procedures worth tens of billions of dollars per year, South Korea is a global hub. And it’s growing fast: according to the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, the number of people traveling to Korea for medical tourism is approaching 300,000 per year, and is still growing at a staggering yearly rate of 30%.

008_Herche Plastic Surgery_Consultation Room 08_3rd Floor©Ji Yeo, Herche Plastic Surgery_Consultation. Room 08_3rd Floor, 2014. Courtesy of Baxter St. at CCNY.


009_Herche Plastic Surgery_Operating Theater_5th Floor©Ji Yeo, Herche Plastic Surgery_Operating Theater_5th Floor, 2014. Courtesy of Baxter St. at CCNY.



Embodying this growth, small clinics have become multi-million-dollar complexes. One clinic built its own 21-floor building in the middle of the high-end Gangnam area in Seoul, including different functions for each floor, 300 employees, 30 doctors, 12 operation rooms, 40 postoperative rooms, 70 consulting rooms, a dermatology salon, a spa, dental care, aftercare, a cafe, a library, and a sky lounge—all in one building under one cosmetic surgery clinic. These towering clinic buildings are forming a new skyline in Gangnam. Millions of patients walk in and out. Thousands lie on surgical beds sleeping, waking up with fresh seams on their face and body. Through collecting images covering just a fraction of these clinics, she attempts to measure the scale of the industry and visualize the millions of people who’ve passed through these rooms and halls, evoking her own mixed emotions: an association with this culture, as it is part of her; but also melancholy.

Ji YeoJi Yeo at Baxter St. at CCNY during the opening night. 


Yeo Opening-5At Baxter St. at CCNY during the opening night. 



Ji Yeo is a Brooklyn based artist who pursued her master’s degree in photography at Rhode Island School of Design, as a president’s scholarship and Henry Wolf Scholarship awardee. She graduated Seoul National University in Seoul, Korea in Visual Communication Design and achieved certification program at International Center of Photography in New York, US. Her work is held in collections at The Smithsonian and Rhode Island School of Design Museum. Her work has been shown in International Center of Photography in New York, National Portrait Gallery in London, ClampArt in New York, Houston Center for Photography in Houston, Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Glasgow. Her work has been featured worldwide; Guardian UK, BBC Brazil, Huffington Post, National Geographic Proof, LA Times reFramed, Daily Mail UK, , Wired Magazine, Dazed Digital, Marie Claire Brazil, Esquire Russia, Blink magazine, Von magazine International, and many others.

Yeo Opening-11At Baxter St. at CCNY during the opening night.
016_Mega Plastic Surgery_Infrared Light Therapy_2nd Floor©Ji Yeo, Mega Plastic Surgery_Infrared Light Therapy_2nd Floor, 2014. Courtesy of Baxter St. at CCNY.


The exhibition is the third in a series of four solo exhibitions by 2014 winners of BAXTER ST at CCNY’s Workspace Residency, supported by the Jerome Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and will continue through May 16th.

All Opening images by Paul McLaren.

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