Koo Jeong A
“If you are curious, you expand your ideas into different areas. You meet writers, architects, designers. You are forced to learn how to speak to young skaters."
Koo Jeong A incorporates still images, video, sculpture, sound, and scent into site-specific interventions that demand a degree of exploration, examination, and discovery from viewers in order to first notice their existence and then decipher their meaning. Subtle, thoughtful, and deliberate, her installations teach us to look more attentively at our surroundings and find beauty in the ordinary. In one work, thousands of Swarovski crystals embedded into a stone wall glisten as the sun shines. In another, a sculptural, fully functional skatepark glows in the dark, imbuing the wooded landscape of Vassivière in France with a mysterious, almost dream-like quality. An interest in the five elements—earth, fire, metal, water, and wood—as well as in Eastern philosophies and beliefs underlies the South Korean artist’s restrained aesthetic.
Koo’s glow-in-the-dark skatepark series reflects the playfulness of her practice which synthesises imagination and reality by using commonplace objects in an unexpected, enigmatic and humorous way. Koo’s first skatepark, named OTRO, was built in 2012 in collaboration with L’Escault Architectures, and was erected on Vassivière Island, France. The second, EVERTO, was built in 2015 in Liverpool, UK, for the 2015 Liverpool Biennale; the third, Arrogation, was commissioned for the 32nd São Paulo Biennial in 2016 and most recently, OooOoO was built in Milan, Italy, as part of the 2019 Triennale. Most recently, Koo’s project Prerequisites 7 (2019) continues to play with our everyday environments by animating five sketches from her book Nomos Alpha (2018) using augmented reality. Koo collaborated with Acute Art to render one of these drawings, density, into a floating three-dimensional ice block which was exhibited at the Fondation Beyeler during Art Basel (2019), Frieze Sculpture 2019 in Regent’s Park, the Julia Stoschek Collection in Berlin and SKATE at Somerset House.
Koo has received international solo shows at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1994 and 1997); Moderna Museet in Stockholm (1998); Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (2004); Yuz Museum, Shanghai (2016); Art Sonje Center, Seoul (2017), Galerie Eva Presenhuber, New York (2020) and Pilar Corrias, London (2022). Koo has also featured in group exhibitions at the Venice Biennale (1995, 2001, and 2003), Kwangju Biennale (1997), International Triennale of Contemporary Art in Yokohama (2001), Biennale of Sydney (2004), Pace Gallery, New York (2019) and Luma Arles, Arles (2021).
In 2016 Koo was named the Artist of the Year by the Korean Cultural Centre UK and was also a finalist for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s Hugo Boss Prize (2002), and winner of the Villa Medici Award (2000).