Ceramic shell, 2021, Ceramics, 8.3 x 5.5 x 5.5 in.

Ceramic shell, 2021, Ceramics, 11.8 x 4.3 x 11.8 in.
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Jihyun Song

South Korea

I am fascinated by hollow objects left behind over centuries. In the history museum, ceramic vessels that have been made for the purpose of containing have lost their function and look like permanently opened oral cavities. For the last two years, I have thus researched objects that reflect the permanent void as a metaphor for the left behind. In the process of clay becoming fired vessels, I feel the fluidity and ephemerality of the clay on the pottery wheel like the cyclic processes of nature, changing its state depending on time. Using traditional throwing techniques, I document the transient state of the live earth, keeping its fundamental materiality.

    - Excerpt from artist statement

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RCA Website︎     @ji_hyun.song︎


What interests you so much about hollow objects or vessels? What interests you particularly in shells at the moment?

When starting my ceramic career I focused on the functional side of ceramics and the reference for that was historical Korean ceramic vessels. Korean moon jars or tea bowls are regarded as representative traditional vessels, and they can be found in museums. These traditional vessels had an important role in my research, showing regional lifestyles, however, at the same time they have lost their function and now as a meaningless existence (and their origin is sometimes undocumented). A seashell is a symbolic and a bowl-shaped object which is no longer used and time has changed its meaningfulness.

Do you feel that there is a parallel between the physical emptiness of a hollow space, and the human tendency to feel a void, even if -- or especially right after -- one has achieved something great or found success?

It is difficult to have a direct answer. I believe that physical emptiness is a potential space to be filled or a non-existent space divided by a human notion. In other words a human mental void tends to lead to the achievement of making yet another physical emptiness as most spaces exist as objects: buildings, cars, vessels, etc.

What first interested you in working with ceramics as a medium?

For sure there are various types of materials to express ideas but my primary interest for now is clay which is fluid and easily modified. When working with clay I feel its tactility and the scent that drying clay sheds. I imagine the unpredictable glaze outcomes after firing. Moreover, leftover clay fragments are recycled. Clay is not only changeable in form but also recirculated from one nature to another nature.