Have You Seen My Mountain?

July 15, 2009

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If you missed Koo Jeong-A’s Mountain Fundamental on the first floor of BCAM, you’re not alone. And, if you did happen to find it, you might wonder why it’s there. Mountain Fundamental is comprised of a tiny landscape of stones that the artist sanded into a fine powder and placed atop a very long-legged table that comes to about nose-height. The spindly table and the diminutive mounds are practically invisible in a huge space that’s swallowed up by Richard Serra’s Band.

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Koo Jeong-A, "Mountain Fundamental," 1997-2009 (detail), stone powder on wooden table, dimensions vary, courtesy of the artist and Yvon Lambert, Paris

Since Mountain Fundamental is part of Your Bright Future, an exhibition installed one floor up, I presumed the placement was curator Lynn Zelevansky’s decision. I was wrong. It was the artist who determined the location for the artwork, and for all of her works in the show. Rather than having her own gallery space, she often chooses unexpected locations for her works; sometimes this means moving into space where other art is already installed, or in the case of Bridge, another work in the exhibition, taking over a storage room not normally accessible to the public.

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Koo Jeong-A, "The Bridge," 2009, razor blades, dimensions vary

The atypical placement evokes a sense of mystery, poetry, and, for Bridge, which features dimly lit razorblades, even a sense of danger. Koo uses an artist’s technique that’s a few decades old—disguising installations as a means of drawing viewers into the creative process. The idea is that, once visitors “see” the work—recognize it as art—it becomes complete. Suddenly, seeing Mountain Fundamental aside Band makes a lot more sense to me.

Allison Agsten