The precarious state of human existence has been a primary question in Seo Young Chang’s work. Narrated through an estranged voice, her work illuminates the incompleteness of a being who is destined to oscillate between life and death, beginning and end, and past and future. Not knowing where she/he belongs to, her/his feeling of anxiety and desolation is mediated through the loading time of a video. In an attempt to describe someone’s repetitively denied way of existing and its possible form, the artist sets up a situation by using repetitive movements, texts, rules, conditions and narration as her main material.
"Off" implicates a state of waiting for something to be turned “on” again. Reflecting her interest in disease and death, Chang has developed her work around the relationship between body and time. The debilitated body goes into the individual spacetime of “off” as its pain cannot be shared with others because of the relativity of pain. A one-channel video work "Circle" (2017) and a two-channel video installation "Nameless Disease" (2016) represents the body in this state of “off,” being isolated from the external society. Running in a loop, both works present the perennially repeated movements of performers within orchestrated situations. For example, the work "Circle" shows an endless loop of a performer descending a spiral staircase; and "Nameless Disease" displays a man moving along the same circle over and over again while lifting his heels up. These limited situations in the videos maximize the sense of anxiety and unfamiliarity. At the same time, these endless looping videos build up a world, from which the subject cannot escape by its own will. While the performers in "Circle" and "Nameless Disease" continue repeating their movements in order to escape from their incomplete body, the work "Cream" (2018), a recent piece, confronts death with a neutral attitude. In Cream, a person’s nose and mouth are exposed outside of the body-bag that holds a corpse. Two hands are massaging skin/leather, which is unclear whether it belongs to a person who is alive. A person in the body-bag repetitively refers to ten adjectives that are frequently used for anti-aging cream advertisements. The "Cream" refers to two different types of cream—one is an anti-aging facial cream for human skin and the other is a cream for managing leather products. The dual function of the single word cream corresponds to the transition between life and death.
Seo Young Chang, through this exhibition, explores an indeterminate condition of existence, body, and time and brings the question of human existence into our own life.