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Halmoni is a Shapeshifter

Last year I wrote about my 할모니 in a post called Forgetting and Remembering in Making 김치. The shaped poem included in the post, Halmoni is a Shapeshifter, has continued to shapeshift into new forms, just as 할모니 did during her lifetime in response to the pressures of colonization, war, immigration, and assimilation.

You can listen to the piece in Korean as well. I am thankful to two friends - Min Che and Da Hye Yang - for graciously recording the Korean text so I could listen and repeat line by line. I then recorded myself saying each sentence to put together the finished recording, which is imperfect but the best I can do.

Below you can watch the performative reading, which includes the piece being read in English and Korean, and took place at the closing night of the group exhibition 뿌리 Roots: Korean Diaspora.

Halmoni is a Shapeshifter is also included its latest form in the limited edition artist book 뿌리 Roots: Korean Diaspora. For this collaboration, I worked closely with Andre Lee Basseut, who conceptualized and created the artist book. Andre letterpress printed the two languages on translucent vellum in Korean on one side and English on the other. The languages blend and disrupt each other through the vellum and appear in the reverse script through the translucent page. This is equivalent to how I experience loss of language and grief about not speaking Korean.

I also transformed Halmoni is a Shapeshifter into a limited edition digital print that was given to each member of my nuclear family as well as my elders and cousins on my Korean side. It consists of four mountains that shape a blossom and 색동 fabric is stitched onto the surface. The piece can be read in any orientation - top, bottom, left, right / north, south, east, west - depending on the preference and language accessible by the viewer.

The piece was also scribed on the wall in English and Korean in my installation at Wo/Manhouse between the lines of 색동 fabric that became disengaged from itself as it traveled up the wall to form a mountain icon.

나는 산이다.

I am of the mountain.

너는 산이다.

You are of the mountain.

산은 나를 꽃으로 피게 한다.

The mountains shape a blossom.


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