No Touch-Ups Necessary


What caught my attention about Yeondoo Jung’s work was the color. Saturated and rich, the images capture high-octane hues that, coupled with the stylized appearance of the photos, make for surreal viewing. But the effects are honestly achieved—digitized retouches and glossy alterations hold no allure for the artist. With an approach that shows how truth can be guised as a lie and vice versa, Jung has earned a reputation for visually exploring fabrication, amplification, could be and never was.

As a mid-career Korean photographer and filmmaker, Jung delves into altered realities or dreams made real. His 2004 series, Bewitched, gave individuals whom the artist came across in everyday situations—a waitress, a student, an art collector—the chance to realize their innermost dreams, at least for the time it took to click a camera shutter. Dreams ran the gamut from a trip to the South Pole, to becoming a hotshot chef, to teaching art education in war-torn Afghanistan, and Jung staged them all. The photos document impermanent incidents that are simultaneously false and true.

Jung’s latest photographic series, Locations, contains photos so over-the-top that at first the viewer looks for a hidden meaning, only to realize that nothing is disguised or simulated. All is as it, incredibly, appears. Contrived, brilliant and a dynamic mix of lie and truth, these works attest to the skill and unusual sensibility of an artist who is a storyteller most of all.

(Image: Yeondoo Jung (b. 1969). Location #8, 2006. C-print, 48 x 62 3/5 inches, 122 x 159 cm. Edition of 5. Courtesy Tina Kim Gallery, New York.)

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