A Pregnant Moment, exhibition text
By Iben Elmstrøm
The title of Annesofie Sandals first solo exhibition at Gallery Factory in Seoul, A Pregnant Moment, refers to what the ancient Greeks described as ‘a kairotic moment’ which synergized two dimensions of time. Sandal has been working through this ancient dual perception of time kairos and chronos, - nature’s time and a systematic time doctrinated by humans to examine how the ideas relate to contemporary global phenomena and our increasingly intertwined realities.
Today we still have the remnant of chronos in our language as the word chronology, refers to a sequential ordering of time, yet kairos did not survive much translation into our modern minds. Kairos is nature’s own progressive force, beyond human reach or control, like a divine force, fertilizing growth and blossom, birth and seasoning as the opportunity of life. As the ancients knew, time is not tangible as such, but consists of an abstract dimension and a rational, yet imagined calculation. The rise of modern industrialism imposed a whole new concept of time, based on clock-discipline, divorcing it from the seasonal patterns previously affecting labor time, asserting new standards for the individual life-condition.
For the exhibition, Sandal has worked with discarded cardboard boxes bought from local cardboard collectors. In the local context of South Korea, cardboard collecting represents a new kind of underground economy that has emerged for underprivileged, elderly citizens in response to the lack of social security for people whose businesses did not survive the progressive economic development and others without pension savings or family support. The elderly support themselves through the labor of Cardboard Connoisseurs as it is nobly named, controversially stimulating a positive system of recycling, yet at the same making poverty-stricken life viable in contemporary South Korean society.
Cardboard boxes are designed to protect, store, and carry things for us and therefore its material bends, marks, and tears in different shapes when circulated and used. The marks and bruises layers in the cardboard as imprint of time and exchanges between us, and as evidence of the many circuits the material bypasses. Sandal has worked with creating particular kinds of surface treatments or coatings for the boxes, which give the discarded boxes a renewed iconic status of global ‘waste’ objects. Sandal has coated the boxes in a value scaling that resembles the Korean coin system -gold, silver, and copper - functioning as an almost already, bygone reference of material value, as the coin system is progressed by moneys digitalization and speed as immaterial registration. The coin coloring also activates another South Korean phenomenon - its tiger economy - as South Korea turned from being one of the poorest countries in the world to being a developed, high-income country in just one generation.
In another series of works, Chronos Composed, Sandals has worked with colors and perceptive registrations from Santa Fe, New Mexico. In Santa Fe the spectacular nature surrounding the city seems closely linked to depictions and the feeling of the place. Colors and natural materials have affected the way houses are shaped and toned - a practice that has its roots in indigenous populations’ legacy and Mexican societies located nearby. Sandal has used the color-scales she found in Santa Fe’s nature as a source for her work of coating discarded cardboard boxes. Nature often leaves us with a strong perceptive imprint, its rhyme and time is something humans will always aspire to connect to, as a way to think beyond our mortal world and its untimely striving for progression. Another piece, Blue Son, unfolds as a familiar concept from the art world’s own circulation systems and value chain, as Sandal has composed a new piece from the cardboard which protected and carried her works from the US to South Korea. The piece reverses our understanding of value, art, and authenticity, questioning yet another system of value – creation and the leaps it might entail. Lastly, the piece Belly Box situates the artist’s own connection to the concept of kairos as the growing opportunity nature brings us.
Sandal’s practice often activates certain paradoxical registers within contemporary forms, high and low value, and global complications and hierarchical positions. By creating a deliberate ambiguity between surface and content, Sandals works resonate with features of our contemporary culture, where value judgment and transactions between us are often based on certain coated realities that obliviate our judgment or intentions. Sandal has worked with discarded cardboard as the primary material for the pieces installed at Gallery Factory, a material-based research inaugurated during her first visit to South Korea in 2014 as International Artist Fellow at the MMCA Changdong Residency.