Re-tracing Buro / Exoticism for another time / 2022 / Installation / Mihakgwan, Seoul

….The golden covering that rotates at the center of the exhibition space with three electronic displays behind it is also borrowed from the pandemic-ridden streets and demonstrates the unpredictable future suggested by the damaged billboards. Under the gilded wrapper is a figure of a plant that has spread globally through a logistics network as a counter response to the immobility in the time of COVID-19. It’s a palm tree. As cities, including their restaurants and cafes, were under lockdown for months due to COVID-19, the palm trees that once decorated these spaces were left unattended for a while, like the billboards. While the withered and lifeless palm trees were quickly discarded after the lockdowns were lifted, they were soon distributed deep into every corner of our everyday life under the disguise of a newly introduced merchandise. The palm tree has now become a byproduct that provides the unattainable experience and functions both as a symbolic commodity of the global industries (used in advertisements for McDonald’s, beverages, and global apparel companies’ t-shirts and design goods) and as an evidence of global terraformation that subverts locality. Now, they can be commonly found anywhere, from a guesthouse at the edge of the Korean peninsula to in front of a closed school in the countryside. The golden packaging that covers this palm tree is actually used to dispose of Christmas trees on the streets in Europe. Starting from the 26th, a day after the big day, and until spring comes, the trees that once celebrated Christmas are thrown away onto the streets. These abandoned Christmas trees that pile up in colorful golden wrappers and withered palm trees on the streets share the fact that they both have spread from the desires for escapist utopias and exoticism, driven by the distribution network of global capital. In this exhibition, a palm tree that is covered in a golden wrapper takes the place of a Christmas tree and rotates gracefully to the ukulele music like a ballerina figure in a music box…. (excerpt from the exhibition text)