A Korean artist’s book

November 24, 2022

As the exhibition Hallyu! The Korean Wave is now in full swing, I wanted to share a closer look at a book from our collection created by contemporary Korean artist Kwon Jukhee in 2013.  

Vita is the autobiography of the poet and playwright Vittorio Alfieri. The pages were shredded and twisted into fine strips – and then assembled into the shape of a bird’s nest.

You can see more of Kwon’s book sculptures here.

The notion of using recycled books for artistic and sculptural objects has been explored over the years by many Korean artists. Contemporary designers continue to experiment with different techniques to transform paper into many eye-catching sculptural artefacts. The traditional Korean paper (hanji) is one of their favourite materials, thanks to its unique quality of being both soft and strong. You can find more examples of these paper artworks – such as trays, decorative boxes, woven jar and basket in the V&A collection.

At the National Art Library, we have a relatively small collection of research and study materials related to Korean art and design, but it is growing steadily. You can use our catalogue to search for items not only housed within our library but also in the Korean section of the Asia Departmental Library (retrieval time will take a little longer for the latter). In addition to printed journals and books, we also provide access to RISS International, which is a comprehensive search platform that allows access to journal articles published by Korean scholarly associations and university research institutes, full text theses from Korean universities, and materials from university and  special libraries.

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1 comment so far, view or add yours


Thank you, Ching-Yuet Tang. I have a particular love for South Korea, for books, for paper and for art. I do have a problem with printed books, which are an art in their own right, being turned into art objects. This poetry book speaks for itself. Was it unique? How does this beautiful nest reflect the writers intentions? How did the poetry affect and inspire Kwon Jukhee?

Would the artist have turned a book printed in Korean into an art object of this sort? I have lots of questions but still ponder what I really think. I can make blank books using a range of different structures and materials. I could then recreate and make my blank book into an art object. What would I be doing? I suppose saying that this blank book is not for words or images but for sculpting into something other. Ching-Yuet Tang could you tell us a little more about this kind of work. How does the original item inform the artist?

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