27 OCTOBER - 9 DECEMBER 1995
Y. David Chung’s multimedia installation Turtle Boat Head chronicles the history of a recent Korean immigrant, now the owner of an inner-city convenience store. Through the store keeper’s eyes, Chung examines the meshing of cultures that characterizes life in urban America, and the American Dream of “home.” Turtle Boat Head is being shown in conjunction with the international symposium "House, Home, Homeland" that will be held at Rice October 27-29, and Cultural Baggage, an invitational exhibition of original photography-based works by 20 artists.
“The exhibition of Turtle Boat Head is a major opportunity to present aspects of Korean history and culture to Houston communities for the first time” says Rice Gallery director Kimberly Davenport. “Chung draws on his family’s experience as proprietors of inner-city convenience stores to examine the invisibility of individuals and entire cultures often known to the general populace only through news reports.”
The title Turtle Boat Head refers to one of the most important moments in Korean history when, in 1592, Admiral Yi-Sun-sin defeated the invading Japanese armada by designing ironclad warships in the image of huge fire-breathing turtles. The ships appear in wall-size charcoal murals in which Chung’s taut, angular figures and careening perspectives forcefully convey an immigrant’s experience of the turmoil and isolation of American urban life. Chung combines these drawings with other media to create an environment that he says is like “a walk through the mind of a young Korean person.” In Chung’s poignant vision the sense of personal and interior space is starkly contrasted with the world of external events. Entering a structure representing a typical inner-city convenience store, viewers are given a moving glimpse into the daydream-world of the storekeeper, who grew up in Korea. This element of Turtle Boat Head, a large screen video projection, has been recognized as a significant work in itself, winning numerous awards at video festivals across the country.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
David Chung lives in Virginia and has a studio in Washington, DC. His work has been exhibited in many American museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington, DC. Chung was recently awarded the commission to create a public sculpture for the City of Los Angeles. Monument to Koreatown, a work in progress, will include a thirty-foot high metal folding screen depicting scenes from Korean American history.