Installation artist Jean Shin combines textiles, topography and discarded household items to create land- and city-scapes to demonstrate modern society’s understanding of failure and accomplishment and the constant desire to ‘measure up’.
In Lost Vista hundreds of keys, embedded in profile halfway into bronze tiles, evoke mountainous desert regions peppered with numerous hotels and motels in various states of abandon or prosperity. In a practical sense, keys represent ownership and security. When keys change hands regularly, money does too. What does it mean when keys lose their initial purpose? The topography of the keys is reminiscent of past over-optimistic American exploits of expansion: Route 66 and the Old West.
Alterations features scraps from cut-off pants, positioned to resemble a sprawling city. According to the artist’s website, these wax-stiffened cuffs represent the illusory standards of physical ‘normalcy’ expounded in the fashion and clothing industry, and bring attention to those often disregarded but populous communities involved with the manufacture and maintenance of clothing.
Another work, Everyday Monuments, is a vast assemblage of trophies, altered to represent more mundane activities; instead of jumping hurdles or shooting pucks, the trophy figurines brandish mops, messenger bags or workman’s tools. The trophies rise up in the air like sky-scrapers, creating a varied skyline featuring less exciting but nonetheless important achievements of the everyday citizen.
Shin’s topographies shine light on our tendency to place too high expectations on ourselves and the ease in which we distort the meaning of ‘worthiness’. Using large quantities of discarded objects, Shin demonstrates how this distortion exists at a societal level, displaying how the public ‘builds up’ some to the detriment of others. To see more of Jean Shin’s work, click here