Can you tell us a bit about your graduation project and how it came about?
It all started with a dream. In the dream, I was trapped in a paralyzed body, unable to do anything at all, while being isolated in a space without family or friends. The paralyzed body was my grandmother's, and the space was a nursing home in South Korea. The dream evoked a strong feeling of empathy for my grandmother, who has been paralyzed for two years in a nursing home. Ever since she became paralyzed, I cannot help but think about her and about other people that are quarantined because of their physical conditions. To relieve my grieving over this desperate situation, I decided to concentrate on this theme for my graduation project.
I started to compare my grandmother’s experience of her physical location—only staying in her bed in the nursing home in South Korea—and my location going around many different locations, mainly in the Netherlands. It felt so strange that she could only experience the world through the pictures I sent her. The sky and flowers that she can see are actually from The Netherlands through pictures. However, because of the Covid lockdown, I also found myself stuck at home for several months. During that period, I could only experience the world through the internet, rather than in a physical way. I realized that in fact, my grandmother and I are under the same sky. I then started researching the relationship between people, places, and their limitations in relation to ‘social distancing’.
I looked at the notion of the nursing home and the paralyzed body through the lens of Michel Foucault’s concept of Heterotopia. With my work, I question whether social distancing existed before the arrival of Corona and aim to remind my audience of the fact that there has always been a social distance between quarantined people and the rest of the people and places in society. Eventually, I made a series of films. In the first film, I visited my grandmother through Google Earth. This visit was the only way for me to go to the nursing home in a time of social and physical distancing. However, the obvious failure of this visit again recalls the idea of Heterotopia: utopian places exist on a map but never belong to society. After I made the first film, I felt isolated and socially paralyzed as an immigrant in Dutch society. So my second film is about my identity in Dutch society. The films are connected through the notions of Heterotopia they address. For me, Heterotopia is the state of broken belonging where the paralyzed grandmother and my isolated life as an immigrant are located.
Which themes or societal concerns are you addressing in your work, and how?
This project is dealing with people and places that are muted, isolated, and broken through social distancing and tries to give them voices. And it is about identity and positioning issues of immigration within globalization and modernity. Globalization makes us go ‘there’ beyond ‘here’. It makes us believe we can go anywhere we want, but that does not mean we can achieve a sense of belonging anywhere. We are always part of something, either socially, geographically, culturally or politically. And de-location or re-location by moving often makes us feel broken, isolated, and fragmented. In my research document, I argue to consider ‘self’ as an intersection of society, class, gender, race and to understand self as a way of reflecting our collective society. So this project deals with my personal living conditions under the notion of Heterotopia, but at the same time, it reflects on immigration issues, political issues, and boundary issues. I believe reflecting self is a way of reflecting our collective society as like the well-known feminist quote: “Personal (private) is Political (public)”
What will you be working on in the near future? What are your next steps?
I wandered a long way to reach what I wanted to learn academically. I studied intermedia art, fine art, and transformation design. My interest has always orbited around something, but I could not define it yet, even though I knew it was closely related to space, place, and people. Through the artistic research with my minor Critical Studies, I realised my interests are not only physical spaces or places, but also how they affect people and their life, especially looking at social structures through a spatial way of thinking. I am very interested in how geographic conditions influence identity and a sense of social belonging. In addition, I have a strong desire to deconstruct, reconstruct, and redefine myself from perspectives of social intersections. My graduation project eventually grew out to become the research proposal for my Master's, where I will continue to explore (broken) sense of belonging, geographical/social identity and (re)imagined community.
To read more about Minsun’s work, pay a visit to her Graduation Catalogue Page or read her research here. Furthermore, her journey can be followed on Instagram. The winners of the Threshold Award Commercial Practices will be announced during a festive ceremony as part of the Graduation Show. Keep an eye on our Graduation Show page for more information.