Kwon has an MA in Book Arts from Camberwell and creates all her works by hand. She uses abandoned books for her sculptures, such as the opening piece Redemption, which is made up of eight books found in an abandoned Italian church (Kwon lives and works in Italy). She cuts each page into single lengths creating pages which stretch from the gallery floor to ceiling. The spines of the books are suspended in a semi-circle with lengths of pages falling down in eight clusters which settle in curls on the floor. It is incredible to see the pure volume of space that the pages take up from such a small spine. Interestingly, the colours of the pages vary between the books from light damage which also brings a tonal quality to the sculpture.
Stepping inside the semicircle of Redemption itself is evocative of stepping into the the hollow of a tree as you look up at the texture of pages. In this way there is a real sense of life and energy within the sculpture. The analogy of a tree is also used by October Gallery who describe the transformation of Kwon's books as a journey which starts and then returns to a tree form. There is also a sense of new life as the abandoned books become the focus of the exhibition.
The idea of new life is further explored in The Wedding Dress – a sculpture created out of English dictionaries into a tight wedding dress bodice which then falls into a swirling and long skirt. The spines here are suspended too. The Wedding Dress however feels a bit clichéd and I fail to make a connection between the dictionaries and the dress. It also has the danger of moving into pure decoration, although the craft itself is still impressive.
Other works which appear to fall into a figurative form include pieces from the Fluxus series such as Telephone where yellows pages of a phone directory fall out of the either end of the telephone handle. Here the works seems to fall short of much depth beyond the concept of the actual craft.
Red Tree, which was previously exhibited at October Gallery earlier in the year, proves to be a stronger piece. It is more of an installation compared to the other pieces and is based on the idea of memory and scraps the artist collected from discarded books uses as bookmarks. The work consists of a bright red book flowing from the wall with paper ephemera on the wall such as scribbled numbers on scraps of paper, postcards and picture of the Madonna. The cut up pages in this work seem to be a therapeutic action or method perhaps for going back and capturing these pieces of memories.
Kwon also works with different methods such as montage as she cuts black and white images out from a book in the work Il Teatro. She even seems to make an attack on one book in the work Sense and Nonsense in Art where the book actually titled Sense and Nonsense in Psychology has its pages shredded out into a starburst. Perhaps Kwon is trying to comment on a relationship between psychology and art, however her intention as with many works appear unclear and focused more on the book aesthetic.
The strongest works in the exhibtion are those where the stories behind the material come to life or indeed are transformed into a new life as in Redemption. Many of the works however do not have the same sensitivity although skilfully made and get lost in the craft of book art.