, ,


* E-mail : sweetcje@empal.com

The praxis of mixrice(Cho Jieun and Yang Chulmo, active since 2002, based in Seoul) operates in the intersection of migration, personal archiving and participatory workshops. mixrice positions themselves as a program organizer and a social mediator who integrates personal and collective archives of memory by operating diverse strategies of dialogues, gatherings, graphic design, photography, video, comics, murals, interventionist street performances, etc. In approaching the issue of migration, mixrice focuses on the tension between the sense of displacement and appropriation in one’s identity and memory.
mixrice has been introduced in various venues including
The Antagonistic Link - Electric Palm Tree(2009, Casco, Office for Art, Design and Theory, Utrecht), A Dish Antenna(2008, AIternative Space Pool, Seoul), Activating Korea : Tides of Collective Action(2008, Govett-Brewster Art Museum, Plymouth), The Society : Realism in Korean Art 1945-2005(2007, Bandaijima Art Museum, Nikata), Bare Life(2007, Journal BOL, spring issue, artist page), The 6th Gwangju Biennale : Fever Variations(2006, Gwangju Biennale Hall, Gwangju) and The Battle of Visions(2005, Kunsthalle Darmstadt).

* Mixrice is a project team researching and suggesting alternative waysof proceeding art and cultural activities. As a first project we have been involved in series of activities such as media programs for immigrated workers, video diaries, and channels. The 2 members of the group are Cho jieun, Yang chulmo, We do not specify a particular role for the each member, but work together on general plans, media education classes, video editing and channel management.
350,000 foreign workers currently living in Korea are not easily seen to Korean people. They are living somewhere in the national capital region amongst approximately 14,000,000 populations of Korean people. In order to meet them you will have to travel to suburban areas by getting on a tube, then getting on a bus again. Without making an effort we are able to meet them through hidden reportage cameras of news programs or sensational articles created by the media. In these programs they are portrayed as people who speak insufficient Korean language, having difficulties of adopting themselves to Korean life style and missing their own countries.
When we started the Mixrice project in Buchun, we thought that one of the most important things was for us to get over humanitarian attitude towards foreign workers. The sympathetic stares and humanitarian looks summarized by sensational media representations tend to simplify and deteriorate problems into the secondhand experience. Along side this problem the enclosed nature of the Korean society created a mirrored experience of immigrated workers.
Under this circumstance the concept of Mixrice video dairy is to avoid the fantasy created by the mass media and induce foreign workers to voluntarily speak in front of the camera as main subject bodies. Workers who have been portrayed as passive subjects in the past experience the process of gaining an independency through Mixrice video diary. In the video they discuss past developments of Myanmar in relation to Korea at the Han River; worry about the things they will be doing once returned to their own countries. Through their story Korean people are able to meet another Korea portrayed by foreign workers.
What has been planned for that reason is an educational program called Mixrice
Media Class. In order to make the progress in video diary, we had to teach the immigrated workers from the simplest operational skills to editing methods of the video camera. Till now, Mixrice Media Class has been carried out at the Bucheon Foreign Laborers Centre around the metropolitan area and Sung Dong Centre for Foreigners in Seoul. Not only does this class teach the techniques to the immigrated laborers, but also continuously discusses the matter of what subjects should be worked on. The media class usually takes about 4 months, and simple operational skills and cut and pasteediting methods are taught in the first 1~2 months. During this education progress, however, discussions about the life in Korea, the situations of each country and selecting certain theme to express certain thoughts is continuously made. While doing so, the immigrated workers, who first thought it as a mere technique education program, try to make a video for the people visiting Korea from their own countries, explaining the uniqueness of living in Korea. Some of them also plan to convert things they want to say to Koreans, such as their experiences in which they felt the narrow-mindedness of Koreans, into images. During the 4 months, these miscellaneous stories of everyday life turn into a piece of art work through the media class.
We gather the works made through the Mixrice Media Class, and show them in the title of 'Mixrice Video Diary.' About 10 video diary works have been done till now, intended to directly bring out the main body in front of the screen. Various methods have been used in showing the videos, such as showing them in local ceremonies, in events of foreign worker centre or in media festivals such as independent film festivals. In the local ceremony held about twice a year, we pitch a marquee together, making a marquee theatre. Marquee theatre is not only a mere theatre, but also a medium of expressing our ideas. We work on a text clause and hold it up on the marquee. Sometimes, we make leaflet and hand it out to others. Also, we sometimes offhandedly write down Korean proverbs such as "To Sa Gu Pang"(a proverb meaning that the hunting dog is trashed after the rabbit hunting) in various Asian languages. (This proverb infers the attitudes of the Korean government towards the foreign workers) The main guests for these showings are immigrated workers and local residents.
Currently many immigrated workers are involuntarily deported from Korea as illegal sojourners. Many conflicts against this are being deployed. The works of Mixrice support these fights by showing our media works at the sit-down places, or by providing media classes. Here, immigrated workers record their demonstration progress themselves. Other immigrated workers involved in Mixrice project take a step further, producing images for new alternatives for Indonesia, or using independent movement images of Myanmar. In order to improve our media class, we are in the process of negotiating the possibility of the immigrated workers having an access to use media equipments at the local media centers.


This text is extracted from dialogue between Mixrice and Jeon Yong-seok on May 23rd 2012.
C : Cho Ji-eun(Mixrice) / Y : Yang Chul-mo(Mixrice) / J : Jeon Yong-seok(Artist)

C : Well, what shall we being with? What we are working at Geumcheon relate to its vista after midnight. In most of cases, artworks portray streets where factories shout down or the scenes of alleys along where migrants’ houses line up.
J : Are there many migrants?
C : Yes. When we started to work the first project as Mixrice, migrants who participated in the project was living in Docksan-dong. At that time, we used to visit here. What I’m doing for my videos do not reveal them directly. Actually, we are going to shoot the night scenes around factory district and a dark and spooky atmosphere of the place.
Y : Artworks are not supposed necessarily to reveal or relates to migrant laborers.
C : You’re right. Nowadays, we, artists, pay our attention to keeping such facts in mind. We do not want to cover their stories over all.
J : Until now, I feel that it is a little bit difficult to talk because exactly I haven’t understood Mixrice’s recent work yet. However, I think it’s good to go back when Mixrice started, then… to review current our position. I’d like to start to talk about what we thought and desired at that time? While Forum A is in progress, I guess the esthetic focus we put on would be a conversion into minimalism or fluctuating the time when the observer changes to perceive the object. Hal Foster had a strange experience (in the introduction of his book) watching a sculpture, when his daughter was playing around him and then disappeared and reappeared. From Forum A, Mix Rice and Flying City, we had a strong perception of when we started to perceive esthetically. When thinking of the fact that what it developed later had ethnographic features, it would not be absurd to find the root of estheticism in the trend of Neo-Avant-garde along with the shift Marcel Duchamp from minimalism.
It can be a possible description since we reflect on from the historical perspective, but I don’t think that Seongnam Project goes ahead in a different way from how Mixrice has approached to issues or layouts. I can strongly perceive this from how stories are later produced, such as ‹Something that I can’t leave behind› or how I photographed Styrofoam whose pieces were relocated somewhere, during my work in Gunsan. Especially, two photos entitled Prayer Room› (2008) lead us to pay attention to some moments as described earlier. At a glance of Kim Hee-jin’s introductory statement, the work relates this to who Mixrice waits for people, or the photographer’s attitude or timelines between two photos. More important is that to show two similar photos together at one time is a strategy to extend a minute visual difference to a considerable extent in terms of time and space, through a capture of certain moments that we do not notice usually in a daily routine. When we appreciate those works, we have to concentrate on them and so may feel some vertigo, behind which our desire wants not to fall into the staleness.
When one positions oneself in the manner which conceptual approaches, such as relocation or restaging, have open routes to complicated social, cultural spaces, on the one hand, leave a space where reality erupts, on the other hand, what I feel strongly in historical viewpoints leans toward ‘space’ rather than ‘open route.’ Perhaps, I guess that my impulse to give such talk come from what I think is repeated in a similar way or what I feel something dull. Maybe, it would relate to the space’ as I said earlier.
C : I am reminded of one episode. The episode, <the 6th meeting>, Dialogue, is included in a book titled <A Frog in the Valley Travelled to Sea>. The Dialogue covers what has been told between females from Bangladesh, who have their children and live in the Furniture Complex in Maseok. I have known them over long years but didn’t get any chance to encounter with them. So I wanted to have a talk with them. Meanwhile, the housewives think highly of their homes. We had planned running plays on the stage. For the performances on the stage, they had to get a permit from their husbands. We had to meet with couples and explain when the play is due or what their roles are. Usually, their partners agree to do so. Sometimes we find it difficult to talk with females. So do wed-lock immigrants in the same way.
Anyhow, we asked them to have a talk with us. Before meeting with them, I thought and knew what we should do, and how we have to go ahead during dialogue, and what programs to invite them to participate in such event. However, I am hesitating to do so. Moreover, I have a suspicion of how meaningful it is to meet like this through fine artworks.
Also, participants in the Dialogue have known each others over long years and fully understand that both they and I are unfamiliar with each others. In other words, they have a perception of where their identities come from. Probably, the dialogues in this book consist of trivial things. For example, they are chatting while knitting or doing something else. I can derive some images or ideas from their words and yet they stop talking at certain moments. It may be different from the expression of ‘something dull.’ And, naturally, it is deemed nonsense.
J : In terms of inertia from repeated works, It’s reminded of our willingness to keep our distance from immigrants the time we worked the first time. We might be habitually giving final touches to our products and show them. <500 Guys and Game, and Giveaways: a Pack of Napkin, a Pack of Cotton Swabs, a Ball Pen, 1KG Sugar, Photo Frame, Potatoes, 2010> In this case, The videos that Mixrice watched at first could not be replaced by this photo, and I suppose that those are too inattentively captured images to show the lapse of time from the event.
Going back to the work, they might also meet with some of cultural gaps when they meet with their husband to persuade him. Maybe, it would take a long time and could require laborious works to do so. You used the VHS video that covers the lives of immigrants, in order to graft their stories into this photo. It has an array of contents, which are too much to be incorporated into such small frame of a photo.
Relating to my previous comments, differently from such viewpoint, it may be the usual vieo to be needed for life, but we intent to make it special. We may have some problems with our efforts to make unreasonable or unique what is obviously different or transcendental or too reasonable. This is attributed by the fact the contents have more but the form cannot afford them or otherwise technical aspects, small conepulleys we encounter in a daily routine or esthetical focuses on fleeting moments. That’s all I want to say.
Flying City is involved in works relating with children from the last year on. One of motivators is a question about how long existing approaches can sustain. For example, artists may encounter some of obstacles when applying readymade objects. The readymade are often used because of esthetical reasons that are democratic and discoverable as well as various effects. However, when a specific function is required, they may cause some malfunction in operability. From the criticism that the feature should be accepted, they are amid the stream of debate and negotiation, resulting in tension.
A decision was made to use a water tank which is to be installed in a playground. The choice was deemed reasonable in terms of budget or formative advantages. However, the water tank was made of special plastic materials, the surface of which could not afford any attachment. It is needless to say coating. The water tank was cut into pieces and pierced. Some of cut pieces were suspended to be connected to each others. If brackets and others are not cleanly fixed, ironware should be used including screws. However, the final product could not be an impeccable one since it was done over a short time. Nails could be protruded or angle could go noticeably amiss. Dye could have to be thickly applied since coating could not be applicable. So the structure was not possibly kept in shape or dyes were running down. Then, the client could feel dissatisfied with
the final product that was different from intended.
It could be a fresh idea to use a water tank for a designed structure. However, there remains how to manage it in reality. This relates to how much budget would be appropriated and how long it would take to do. Such project is planned as usually expected by industrial sector. The client does not give such budget and period that artists are allowed to prepare the detailed parts and complete final products. Though the readymade are deemed efficient and free to improvise, they turns into a nightmare at a moment, which is too imminent to devise makeshifts. I found it difficult to go ahead in such a way. How would it relates to what I had said before? This has something to do with technical aspects that are compelled to fit a realm of wide radius into a small frame. And then, on a second thought, it could be meaningless to create something by using the readymade shape in terms of sustainability and stability. In other words, this relates to some of awakening that one has an impulse to get a sense of instant freedom but in vain. It is good to feel free to do something instantly but doing so is different from devising or embodying or sublimating it to an extent.
C : Certainly, by the way, we always come across such situations or problems. Again and again
Y : I guess that such problems are in front of artists or artistic groups who are involved in public fine arts or projects. If then, why don’t we talk more about sustainability? Of course, about approaches
C : I have a different opinion. Always, we come across such videos or fall into some unique sentiments. Usually, such events are held out there. Sometimes, interesting things impress or amuse us. On the one hand, people live in such desolate fields. And actually, nowadays, Korea is full of the new, whatever they are, so we do not find it easy to remember what had been in the past. So, while I watched the video, I had a sort of belief I think it would be desirable that the carnival should be legendary. However, the carnival itself could not probably be deemed so. Like when I experienced such weird carnival 10 years ago, I am reminded of past memories whenever I enter into works with dual viewpoints I do not want to reveal.
J : We have unique experiences in our daily lives, which in turn disappears from our memories like sands falling down through our fingers. Often, we have an impulse to signify such experiences but some of difficulties in unraveling them in relation with ‘others’. So I think that it is important to meet qualified counterparts. Well, in case of Cheonggyecheon, the stream might exist as a geological unit. As far as we are concerned, our sweats are a product of the book. We could be independent within the frame. My recent book is a monograph, and not easy to read. I had an idea in mind that readers should be enticed to read through until the end, only if they start reading the book. So, well, I sought to devise an epic and searched literatures and documents on starfish or any others. From macro viewpoints, there are a myriad of sources.
In Alexandra, the doors of temples are said to open and close automatically. I guess that an assortment of themes could be related to the story of the stream, including engineers’ ambition in the Egyptian period, imaginative automatons based in Paris in the earlier the 19th Century, study of Korean plows that facilitate farming in barren desolate fields. While collecting such mythological stories, I note how people came across and learned to manage things, such as iron or machinery, in connection with the labors of craftsmanship. I am compiling the notes and memos to publish a book.
To my strange sense, I thought it is important to explain and understand Korean modernity when I entered into the works in the worksites at Cheonggyecheon. However, gradually, I found that my eyes turned toward other spectrum. I ran into an idea that this is not an issue of modernism but might be a question of what man live by, bread or any others,
As described first, I talked about the trivial moments of minimalism esthetics. And in no time, I began to regret how much I had narrowed the extent of focuses. I do not say that a shift toward another viewpoint has nothing to do with the perspective of modernism. A miracle of Han River itself is a myth. So another kind of myths can be expected. I want to say that we can look over Cheonggyecheon in terms of further pattern of unique behaviors and attitudes toward abstract concepts, how Korean people have been born, grown up and suffer from the pains of life.
Maybe, I guess that it gets important to work with children from the viewpoint of in-depth psychology, along with changes in thinking habits. Further, I’d like to delve into prototypical images. Interesting is the term, ‘prototypical images’ were quite clichés in the painting of modernism. So, it is interesting in terms of reconfiguring hackneyed expressionism.
Anyhow, Neo-Avant-garde seems to seek the strategy to disclose that a continuum is not as continuous as usually perceived, in which a myriad of cuts and blanks are inherently latent. So, actually, the trend deals with as many as pieces as materials. It was virtues that artists present them as they are, perhaps in order to give an impressive effect. However, as my viewpoints gradually turned to somewhere while I’m involved in this book, I think that when I collected the materials to a certain extent, they became to be kept in more orderly state. I guess that as an artist is a representation of a part of himself/herself, narratives have their unique individuality in mixture with research datas and materials. In brief, what I’d like to say is to reconsider a frame that combines all of the collected together.
C : The theatrical performance in Maseok has some of difficulties, in terms of geographical position, so participants are encouraged to join the activities in harmony with their work. We hope that the theatrical community would be remembered as exemplary precedent. Presumably, I suspect that I might eliminate a room for something imaginable or like as I am reluctant to disturb their situations. Yet, I didn’t think of how and what to combine. If things do not get along smoothly, I could perhaps dare to set it on fire. You could figure out that archeologists remove all of their collections while studying remains in historic sites, when they are thrown into a poor predicament, nearly managing such sacred materials. All of us could want to set it on fire, in order not to leave behind some of traces.
Y : So, often, I find it difficult to manage. Always, artists have concerns over whichever objects to manage. Therefore, away from fragmental approaches to images, they desire to derive the inherent essences from things while covering them in their entirety. More of people say that Mixrice focuses on fragmentary approaches, not integrative ones. However, when we, artists are devising to create something perfect, we’re likely to have a strong instinct to resist the attempt to objectify something. Especially, while photographing, we’re more likely to do so. Perhaps, we might not find out appropriate alternatives. Or otherwise as you said before, artists could do implicative works like Cindy Sherman does. They only collect piecemeal parts by applying a variety of media, in order to create a specific book or a structure, so detached from comprehensive approaches. Maybe, they might be subconsciously against them.
J : Well, artists could consummate their artworks in different ways. What I’m saying closely approaches the organization of streaming ideas.
Y : Organization of streaming, an epical structure that connects parts to a specific frame or like.
J : Of course, my thoughts results from what relates to the works of Flying City. Perhaps, I guess that Mixrice may agree with cartoons very well. Even though they are perceived trivial or unimportant, they have a stack of multi layers. Social times could also act as factor or there might be a relation to how long artists immerse themselves to artistic activities in their lives. Sometimes or often, they could and would feel fatigued or bored. If then, fleeting moments would pass by silently or unnoticeably. To me, such dullness or ambiguity is like an egg of duck which is not easier to digest than a chicken egg. I have such sentiment. So, I come across an idea that a myth or legend is needed to solace human souls. Do you happen to hear about a cartoon named Bono Bono? Its book version, not animation, is similar to what I think of a myth. It explains why woods, seas and friends should exist.
Y : Do you happen to read Historie? Cartoon book? In older times, the storyline is based on a character that had lived in the period when Aristotoles and Alexandria were addressed. The work covers a slave who turned into a man of high position passing through ups and downs. The storyline might be inspired by an episode in reality.
Y : An automaton appears there.
J : Looking around more, there are more of things that we feel aghast.
C : Well, my criticism is that the work might heavily rely on minute things in daily routine.
J : People who advocate conceptualism ran to the fields. But later, nothing was heard. Focusing on a specific use or purpose, it makes sense. However, I guess that it is important to step back at appropriate time. Out of sight means to disappear somewhere.
C : Then, should we again set on fire? (laughing) A few weeks ago, I watched a film, <Women Art Revolution>, which covers female artists’ movement in U.S.A. I was impressed by the then fine arts’ affluence. Over time, a couple of female artists disappear, some of whom are active in the circle of fine arts or others quit. Whatever it is, one of them made New Museum. Again, I thought that there might be something to be left. I supposed that some of the spirits were incorporated into New Museum.

Y : In most of cases, there would be less of things left behind. (laughing)