Installation view of Jin-me Yoon, Long View, 2017, single-channel video, in Jin-me Yoon: About Time, exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, October 15, 2022 to March 5, 2023
On view now through March 2023 at the Vancouver Art Gallery is Jin-me Yoon: About Time, an intimate look into the acclaimed Korean-born, Vancouver-based artist Jin-me Yoon’s career trajectory over the past 10 years. A mix of photography, video and installation work, the exhibition highlights Yoon’s fresh shift into monumental and multifaceted artworks – all while staying true to a signature poetic and cinematic aesthetic. Instead of a chronological approach, the works in this exhibition reflect her ongoing prioritization on the interconnected, entangled relations between people and place, across time and space.
Time is both a major focal point in this exhibition and a common theme throughout Yoon’s practice. She looks at time as a measurement of physical, industrial and biological changes in human and the non-human world. An extension of her past works, the exhibition shows Yoon continuing to address the subject of the diasporic experience, colonialism, tourism and militarism all with a politicized awareness of what it means to live and work as a diasporic artist on unceded, ancestral Indigenous lands. In particular, About Time explores the histories in sites where such impacts continue to shape and affect communities in western Canada and South Korea. Natural landscapes are foregrounded in her works and are no longer static backdrops for her subjects.
As you enter the exhibition, one of the first works you see is A Group for 2067 (Pacific Flyways). Created this year by Yoon, it cites her iconic photographic work A Group of Sixty-Seven from 1996. In the exhibition text, it states, “In A Group for 2067, Yoon replaces the painted backgrounds of Harris and Carr with the greenery of the Maplewood Flats Conservation Area on Tsleil-Waututh lands. She depicts youth draped in fabric from the saekdong colours—typically seen on traditional Korean garments. In Korea, these colours presented together are associated with children, survival and resilience. Through these portraits of Korean Canadian youth, many of whom are bi-racial, A Group for 2067 renews A Group of Sixty-Seven’s call to create a new inclusive cultural imaginary of the country.”
Located right across is an extension of A Group for 2067 titled Turning Time (Pacific Flyways). Featuring the same group of youth in A Group for 2067, visitors will find 18 hanging screens in the gallery’s rotunda showing videos of them moving against the backdrop of Burnaby Mountain in a natural and industrial landscape of a bird sanctuary on Maplewood Flats. Through gestures inspired by the Crane Dance, a traditional Korean folk dance, the youth of Korean ancestry are seen moving meditatively. The exhibition text explains, “The work and the dancers reflect on the complex entangled histories of land, both ancestral and environmental. Ultimately, this work asks if it is possible to explore other ways of co-existing among humans and non-humans that value traditional knowledge in light of the contemporary climate catastrophe. A co-existence that would generate new potential futures.”
Best known for her lens-based practice since the 1990s, Yoon’s style has often been linked with the formal aesthetic of the “Vancouver School” of photo-conceptual artists, and to the identity politics of race and gender prominent from the 1990s to early 2000s. In addition to an over 30-year art career, Yoon is also a Professor of Visual Arts at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. In 2009, she was selected as a finalist for the Grange Prize (now known as AIMIA or the AGO Photography Prize). Most recently, Yoon received the prestigious 12th annual Scotiabank Photography Award in early 2022, which celebrates excellence in Canadian contemporary photography. She is expected to take part in a solo exhibition in the 2023 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, accompanied by a monograph by Steidl publications.
Jin-me Yoon: About Time is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery as an initiative of the Institute of Asian Art. The exhibition is curated by Diana Freundl, Interim Chief Curator and Associate Director. On view now, the exhibition runs through to March 5, 2023. For more information, please visit https://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca/. Accompanying the exhibition is also a 208-page exhibition catalogue by the Vancouver Art Gallery and Hirmer Publishers is available at their gallery store.