A Tragedy Enacted Secures Applause That Tragedy Enacting Too Seldom Does
RohwaJeong is an artist team of one woman and one man who have been working together since 2007. This exhibition consists of sixteen video works produced throughout their time together, and thus represents a type of retrospective that allows us to see how these two artists have grown and worked together over the last thirteen years.
The title of the exhibition is taken from a poem by Emily Dickinson. Although the meaning of these lines—“A Tragedy Enacted Secures Applause That Tragedy Enacting Too Seldom Does
”—initially seems simple and obvious, it is actually quite ambiguous. “Tragedy” is commonly thought of as a dramatic apparatus that reveals the essence of life, and the artists have said that the word is linked to the global disasters we have recently experienced. Hence, we seem to be witnessing a “tragedy enacting,” an ongoing dramatic reality with no end in sight. On the other hand, this tragedy must already have been inherent in our lives, since it is only revealed more clearly by certain events or chance, further suggesting that it will never end. The fact that these lines were written in the nineteenth-century seems to confirm this conclusion.
RohwaJeong’s work process consists simply of recording their performative lives. In their first work Grow Up (2009), they remove tape from one another’s shoes, a scene that has now taken on new meaning. For more than a decade, they have used their videos to document the shared activities, exchanges, travels, movements, performances, and entertainments of their daily lives. One of the key aspects of their art is their playful communication or exchange of messages with other artists, as seen in ROTATION (2013). On the other hand, their 2014 video ( ) Promenade – Folding Screen, a collaboration with performance artist Minhee Park, shows how the frame of the camera and the screen can be a factor in formal expansion or dramatic entertainment.
Their most recent works, entitled Still Life, refer to words written by tying thread onto a window screen in a place where they are staying temporarily. In art, “still life” generally refers to an image of inanimate objects, but it can also be read literally, as in, “This is still life.” Delicately appearing in the window screen against a backdrop of beautiful scenery, these simple words become a slogan providing us with inexhaustible inspiration for our lives. Perhaps someone who sees this video will be the next person to stay in that room. Looking outside and seeing this phrase, that person might hear the sound of someone’s voice softly encouraging them with optimism, as well as a powerful message captioning the entire world as a beautiful still-life.