Vancouver artist Jin-me Yoon’s latest exhibition bridges two islands on opposite sides of an ocean.
Spectral Tides combines the work of two collections: Long View, which examines the history and context of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on the western coast of Vancouver Island, and Other Hauntings: A Geography Beloved, which tells the story of Jeju, a South Korean island and the site of a controversial American naval base.
Nanaimo Art Gallery curator Jesse Birch chose to combine the two pieces to create Spectral Tides, which will be on display from Oct. 13 to Dec. 9. An opening reception will be held on Oct. 12 and Yoon will give a talk on Oct. 28.
Birch described the Pacific Ocean as a “present absence” in the exhibition, as it is the element that physically connects the two places.
“That idea of being here on this land and looking out across to this other side that you can’t see, that is both present and absent, is pretty important,” he said.
Yoon was born in South Korea and moved to Canada at a young age. She said she feels a connection to both places and that the exhibit’s reference to spectral tides as an unseen flow of energy between distant shores aligns with her perception of place and identity.
“There are these invisible tides of connection back and forth and I think, because I’m someone who has travelled here and I also travel there but in my mind I’m always there and here and the past coexists with this current moment,” she said. “So that’s a certain kind of way to think about time and space quite differently.”
The stories of the two islands are told through video pieces, photographs and an audio installation. Yoon said Long View “thinks about the entangled histories of place on the Pacific Rim, because there’s so much history that’s invisible.”
Long View features a video of people digging a hole on the beach, as well as photographs and postcards that capture moments from the performance. Other Hauntings is comprised of videos that explain the island’s inhabitants’ connection to Jeju through physical and audio performances.
Yoon said she was fascinated by the connection between Vancouver Island and Jeju, noting they share a history of colonialism, militarism and tourism. She said Jeju inhabitants faced exploitation under Japanese imperial rule and that civilians fell victim to government attacks aimed at communist insurgents during the Cold War. She pointed out that Pacific Rim National Park Reserve beaches were once used as military bombing and training grounds and are still the site of a Cold War ruin at Radar Hill.
“My work references that, but I’m not a documentary artist, I’m not a documentary filmmaker,” Yoon said.
“What I try to do is to take those histories, but they’re not evident when you look at the work because I’m not talking about those histories directly. They inform the work but I’m referring to them in subtle ways and also translating them more poetically.”
WHAT’S ON … Spectral Tides by Jin-me Yoon runs from Oct. 13 to Dec. 9 at the Nanaimo Art Gallery. An opening reception is being held on Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. and an artist’s talk will take place on Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. Attendees must register in advance.