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Going Fluid, Cozy Crusade
Installation for the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA), Seoul. 2019.

Commissioned by: The Seoul Museum of Art.
Research: Yena Ku and Jieun Doe.
Project Manager: Yena Ku.

Detail of puffy and cute laptop.

Going Fluid, Cozy Crusade is puffy and cute. Pastel colors and soft fabrics reference the pairing of pleasures to pains intrinsic to the survival of the plastic surgery industry. The rearrangement of genetically determined organic matter and the merging of this matter with elements alien to the body experienced by patients submitted to Angular Jaw Surgery, Genioplasty, Zygoma and Ptosis Correction, is an act of acute violence. One of the crucial protocols of Gangnam is to pair each condition of pain with an experience of total pleasure. In effect, violence -contained to the surgery room- can only be permitted if countered by an environment that constantly negates it. De-swelling massages are provided after removing the facial bandages for the first time; A patient experiencing headaches and nausea is free to visit the third floor salon to get their nails done; And a client with heavy facial swelling may recline beneath the warm glow of a Smartlux light therapy system. The constant injections of comfiness and cuteness -also in the pastel interior coloring and rounded corners of clinic corridors and waiting rooms- form an arsenal, mounting a cozy crusade against their violent counterparts: blades, blood, and syringes. For every phobia, a philia. And for every condition, an appliance, treatment, or ointment: Gangnam’s clinics are manufacturing an economy of comfort as much as they’re producing violence.

The installation compresses three crucial moments of the development of Gangnam's plastic surgery culture. First, today's beauty bloggers' active engagement in shaping the district has made East and South-East Asian bloggers' bedrooms the of the new cosmetic agora. An Indonesian lifestyle v-logger might as well be the new backdrop where past, present, and future Gangnam patients meet, negotiate, and argue about past, future, and hypothetical bodily updates. Second, the late 1990s and early 2000s, is marked by the consolidation of plastic surgery towers between Gangnam and Sinsa subway stations. During the exact time of the construction of a large number of plastic surgery skyscrapers of this district, Cyworld “virtual homes” (1999), Daum Cafe (1999) and Naver Knowledge Search (2002)—the first Korean social media services based on the construction of an avatar or a new self—as well as Youtube (2005) and Facebook (2006) became part of daily life of millions in South Koreans. The first instance in which massive amounts of people could effectively design their own online persona was symmetrically corresponded with affordable and widely available plastic surgery technologies for the re-construction of the self. And third, the modern Korean plastic surgery industry originated in the wounded bodies of the Korean War. In the 1950s, American reconstructive surgeon Doctor Ralph Millard began a program of physiognomic reconstructions on survivors of the conflict, which led to the development of new procedures not rooted in an ethos of repair, but of “enhancement.” His invention of blepharoplasty, or double-eyelid surgery, rapidly gained notoriety and is to this day among the most popular surgeries practiced in Gangnam.

Axonometric View of Cozy Crusade.

View of the room.

Cozy Crusade.

Detail of Cozy Crusade installation.

Detail of Cozy Crusade installation.

Detail of Cozy Crusade installation.

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