“Yes, I met J on a main road of Neringa, LT; she was on her way to the colony with a handful of groceries and flowers from Maxima, the one and only supermarket in Nida. She’s so petite! I didn’t believe she could ever need all that she bought. Surprisingly big appetite that little girl has. It is some sort of emotional stuff, I guess. She took lots of photos and videos of me and wrote about me . . . drew me on nice paper—I feel flattered. I guess I look good on screen. But I honestly couldn’t tell if she is an artist or a cook—her studio was in a kitchen where she spent most of her time, l(c)ooking and chopping things. She said she’s from New York but did not have the appearance of a New Yorker, not that I have ever been to New York. It’s too far for me.
Well, look at me—I am a fast-thinking being yet a ‘slow’ walker. Do you know Rousseau? Well, everybody knows! Oh, man. That dude is similar to me, according to what she told me. This (pointing at himself with a slimy eyestalk) is the true Solitary Walker but a slower one. And I met the girl like in a reverie and was in love for exactly one month. Then she’s gone. I don’t know her whereabouts. I guess she’s back in New York or China. Wait, was it called S(e)oul?”
(Nene Viskovitz, Neringa, LT)
Joeun Aatchim is an artist who lives and works in New York. She is currently pursuing her MFA at Columbia University in the City of New York.
An Interview with Joeun Aatchim
What inspires you to make so many images so passionately?
Pity, guilt, and a sense of inferiority.
Though personification plays an important role in my work, it is not about creating fictional characters—rather it is driven by excruciating pity that I project upon my inanimate surroundings.
There is always so much to say in order to excuse—‘excuses,’ as in, each component of dialogue in my installations and other projects—or justify what is invoked and the reason to share. I often think art, for myself, might be the sole methodology to state my presence, but it might be redundant or a mere anecdote to the viewers. I hate wasting one’s time. Thus, the work and I must be kind, modest, and even willing to beg for the sparing of one’s time for us. It often inevitably becomes prolix, apologetic, and wordy. A lot of “excuses.” Yet, the rule is never to be meager, but instead alluring, in a way. This is what inescapably inspires me to offer a lot of images and elements in my work.
How do you integrate your art and design approaches? Or are they separate in your experiences of them?
*I answered here considering the “format” of the work, instead of the “design.”
Since I am mildly dyslexic, yet awfully avid in my writing, I often choose the exact same method in how I approach the text, literally and conceptually. I read it for me/you, and I highlight and underline and provide phonetic/visual lures on which to keep one’s eyes. Nausea is inevitable, yet one can be blissfully unaware the sickness by the aid of visual disturbance.
Also, thanks to the fact that I use a language of which I am not masterful (#ESL), I experience a lot of mistakes and misunderstandings on a daily basis and also in my work. In the beginning, I was humiliated; now I embrace and love how romantic it is to be a demi-fool—picture your left hand as it tries to clip your right hand’s nails.
What would you consider to be your aesthetic, and how does it show itself in your work?
Here, I can only state what I have considered lately:
Lately, I enjoy adapting aesthetics from the diction of literature, excluding the action of reading; I treat the elements of my pieces (especially the installation) as I would construct a passage with a four-step compositions, the way I would decide upon the protagonist, antagonist, minor characters, foreshadowing, authorial intrusion, metonymy, and so on. However, prior-to-final decisions are often drawn from chance operations—I just cannot find anything better than an exquisite coincidence.
Describe your relationship with your work.
A. A criminal on a charge of indefinite guilt and his/her advocate with a long-winded plea that heads nowhere.
B. An owner of a 99¢ store and his/her merchandise.
Are you working on anything right now that feels like new ground in your body of work?
I’ve been working on a publication project called Four of Mattresses Stacked on Misery, which is an anthology of memoranda that I have written and collected on my cell phone since 2009 (Thanks to iTunes sync!). This anthology contains various memos, such as dream dictations, silent conversations, half-asleep notes, an insane man’s monologue in public, a few attempts at writing novels, drafts of letters and e-mails, and a mere composition of numbers, for what I don’t remember. The title is one example of an unconscious/asleep note.
I do not think this is new ground in my body of work; however, I am certainly sure that this is the ground in my work—the power with which I sustain myself.