On Stuctures of Power, Agency, Octopusses and other Creatures (201803)

︎Aquarium II, Series of Photographs taken at Noryangjin Fishmarket 노량진 수산시장, Seoul, South Korea, February 2018

I built up an archive consisting of video and sound artefacts collected during research-stays in Hamburg, Germany; Seoul and Busan, South Korea; Qingdao, Shanghai and Chongqing, China. The core of this material are underwater recordings of empty aquariums. ︎
Other resources are video documents of animal-resistance, surveillance, and punishment. An installation titled Aquarium I followed as a first part of a series of works around this topic. Second I created a series of photographs out of pictures I took during my first day at Noryangjin Fishmarket in Seoul, South Korea, titled Aquarium II

Background / Research

I got interested in the topic first through a poem by 정호승 (Jeong Ho-seung) I read during my studies of the Korean language. This led me directly to San-Nakji and various practices of and projections on Korean food culture. 

산낙지를 위하여
신촌 뒷골목에서 술을 먹더라도
이제는 참기름에 무친 산낙지는 먹지 말라
낡은 플라스틱 접시 위에서
산낙지의 잘려진 발들이 꿈틀대는 동안
바다는 얼마나 서러웠겠니
우리가 산낙지의 다리 하나를 입에 넣어
우물우물거리며 씹어먹는 동안
바다는 또 얼마나 많은
절벽 아래로 뛰어내렸겠니
산낙지의 죽음에도 품위가 필요하다
산낙지는 죽어가면서도 바다를 그리워한다
온몸이 토막토막난 채로
산낙지가 있는 힘을 다해 꿈틀대는 것은
마지막으로 한 번만 더
바다의 어머니를 보려는 것이다
For the Sake of San-Nakji
Even if you go to Sinchon
Do not eat octopus with sesame oil anymore
Served on old plastic plates
While their cut off arms are writhing in despair
How full of grief will the sea then be
When we put them into our mouths
How many times does the sea
Fall down the cliffs
They have to be spared
For they miss the sea even as they die
With their bodies in parts
They give everything to wind just a little longer
To feel one last time
The mother of the sea

1:  정호승산낙지를 위하여1998년외로우니까 사람이다》(열림원)
2: My translation of산낙지를 위하여
This is a loose translation.

In my research and documentary practice I am witnessing attempted escapes of non-human animals (mostly octopuses) in captivity. The vendors normally ignored my existence or did not notice me at all – one video shows an exeption. She did not put the octopus back because of me, but you can see her colleague trying. To see this clip and more, follow this link to Vimeo ︎

Following you can find a selection of underwater-recordings, recorded at Noryangjin Fishmarket, Seoul, South Korea.