My recent work combines fragmented details of the IKEA assembly instructions, such as bookshelves and heads of human figures assembling the furniture, and patterns and images from traditional Korean folk arts. The latter includes patchwork wrapping-clothes by anonymous women from the 18th century Joseon Dynasty.


As an artist and immigrant, I represent my psychological distance to my homeland by juxtaposing my culture with my immediate surrounding as exemplified by IKEA assembly instructions. For me, IKEA became a symbol of cultural dislocation in its tendency to level out all cultural differences. Ironically, while I borrow the colors and patterns in my work from historic Korean textiles and embroidery, my work seems to be unidentifiable in terms of cultural specificity.


My work is a surrogate portrait of a migrant, both estranged by and familiar with the hybrid cultural predicament symbolized by IKEA and my own distant “ethnic” culture. My intention is to explore my individual identity as a female Korean artist in relation to the complex (visual) histories of different worlds.


Jieun Shin  신지은

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