Chansook Choi uses performance and video to deal with questions of faith and memory; her works have used the symbolic configurations of numbers, sometimes on a very personal level, as with the date of her own mother’s death. Elsewhere, she has engaged participants whose own memories are recorded and whose responses to camera become the performance.
Chan Sook’s practice has involved a wide range of collaborators from retired women from the former East Germany to Butoh dancers for her work 1218. An example of the randomness and subjectivity of cross-cultural influences, the work Deutsche Liebe features a book in German which was essential reading among schoolchildren in her native Korea, but which was a text virtually unknown within Germany itself.
The play on words in English and German in the title ‘For Gott En’ conflates together memory and belief; a group of elderly women whose experiences of life under the DDR’s Communist regime recount their -sometimes earnest, sometimes amusing- memories and anecdotes directly to the camera. But is this a straightforward documentary? No. Is the work specifically about memory and the contents of those memories? No – there is another layer of meaning here. The women agreed to participate after lengthy negotiations; memory, and the sharing of memory, is something deeply subjective and prone to manipulation, both internally and externally. Memory, like faith, is internalised, and may not stand up to the cold logic of scrutiny.
Text by Matthew Crookes