Yang Ah Ham
Nonsense Factory was triggered by the artist's contemplations of the various crises that seem to be inherent to contemporary life. The final result is a mirror that allows us to see our society from a different angle. Using the surrealist atmosphere of the artist's novella as a sketch and framework, the installation exposes the absurdities of reality, recalling the works of Samuel Beckett or Franz Kafka. Notably, among the primary methods of contemporary art, Yang Ah Ham chose to create this grand metaphor of contemporary as an installation and video. Nonsense Factory brilliantly illuminates elements of our lives that we thoughtlessly ingest like air or water, forcing us to carefully consider the absurdities and complexities hidden in plain sight in our day-to-day existence, and ultimately providing as experience of tremendous surprise and revelation.” (Kyung-woon Kim, Curator, MMCA Korea)
The Nonsense Factory installation consists of six parts: “First Room: Central Image Box Control Room”; “Second Room: Welfare Policy Making Room”; “Third Room: Coupon Room”; “Fourth Room: Artists' Room”; “Fifth Room: Factory Basement”; and “Sixth Room: Blue Print Room for Future Factory”. These parts respectively address the following themes of contemporary society: the issues of the “economy”; happiness as ideology; capitalism and the monetary economy; the cultural snobbery of the art field; the precarious state of idealistic values; and the infinite competition inherent to the pursuit of constant growth and progress.
“Central Image Box Control Room” borrowed the footage of ‘Life Master’, which is aired on a broadcast station. As the images collected in the various rooms of the factory in the story are piled up like bricks to form the image wall, this work shows the skills and characteristics of the people selected in the real society from the perspective of work and labor. The affections they have for their work as artisans inspire their imagination and creativity that differentiate them from the many individuals who isolate themselves in the modern workplace.
In the “Factory Basement”, viewers are surprised as they step on the last step of the platform. As the floor moves, they feel confused for a moment whether their base is shaking or they are shaking themselves. Society and social systems are like living creatures like the moving platform and this movement affects individuals. In the story, an idealist architect who believed in a democratic system created the structure, which is the foundation of the factory. Just as the architect, who believed that people’s free will would make the balance, transformed the idea to the form of the building, the swaying platform structure, which can maintain balance when individuals stand in their respective positions, loses stability when people are swept away in a unified direction. Moving alongside the platform, it is only a craftsman’s table and chair that keeps its place without being swept away. And here the narrative of this structure is linked to the narrative of the video showing the craftsman and the platform performance in the context of showing dignities of individuals.
The relationship depicted in the “Artist Room” story as an artist, assistants and a statue of the Nonsense Factory owner reveals the hierarchical social relations within the culture of the real world. As audiences see the chocolate sculpture of an artist portrait melting down or a group of youngsters caring, licking and biting a chocolate head, they would question the meanings that exist behind these metaphorical acts.
In the “Blue Print Room for Future Factory”, a new factory model exists. The architect who created the model used individuals’ fears to increase productivity. This has been reminded again in the video, in which the guinea pig keeps running as the conveyor belt moves without known the reason.
No matter how long you wait, the promise never happens in the “Welfare Policy Making Room”, and it is questionable whether you can only get happiness by surrendering.
Seeing the process of making money and credit cards at factories in the “Coupon Room” gives Audiences opportunity to look at them as products before their exchange value are created and to reflect on their desire for the object.
In the Nonsense Factory project, the fictional story shows the ‘Abstract Reality’ extracted from the real world. And this ‘Abstract Reality’ adds layers and deepens the meaning by encountering the real world again through the installation that hires images and materials from the real world.
“Nonsense Factory probes both the structure of our lives and their internal dynamic function visually in the exhibition space and the audience in real, who is wandering in these rooms of factory encounter the others and oneself in the image in the capitalistic society of the reification, the commoditization and the fantasization. At the same time, in the space of crossing and intertwining relation, audience sees not only the absurdity of the represented reality, but also the possibility to re-produce/change the reality.”(Chien – hung Huang, critic)
Yang Ah HAM
Born in 1968, Seoul, Korea.
Lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Seoul, Korea.