Goeun Choi aka Chego’s patchwork elements and punchy confessions

This summer, BOZAR is hosting Somewhere In Between, an exhibition which celebrates the vast array of art practices in Europe and tells the stories of anyone who’s someone in the diverse world of European contemporary art. Spread across different venues within Belgium and constellations further afield, it showcases the artistic dialogue taking place in the continent today.

As part of BOZAR’s ambitious show, Brussels-based curators Romuald Demidenko and Hélène Jacques have prepared Fremdkörper: Non-normative body and voice mapping, a group exhibition of voices both upcoming and established, to explore the elusive boundaries between physical corporalities and abstract identities. For the occasion, we’ve invited five of the signed artists to showcase their works.

South Korean participant, Goeun Choi aka Chego (1988), is highly susceptible to her surroundings, whether they be the physical in her new home in Ghent or the virtual online world. Turning fears, desires and hope into stunningly honest confessions and statements, Choi lets her work speak for itself.

At its core, what is your work about? How would you describe it?

My work is about cultural values and traditions ​​that are distinguished between good and evil.

What is its starting point and statement?

It starts from my experience and confliction about sexuality and race. About three years ago, my friend who’s a sex educator told me that the hymen has nothing to do with virginity and that not everyone bleeds after having sex for the first time. This story triggered something in me, because I used to believe that all women bled. I started doubting the concept of virginity, which still appears in myths and religion today.

How do you work on a piece, from start to finish?

I surf the Internet for days, looking at South Korean news, watching new anime episodes, reading arguments on online forums and screenshotting comments, downloading images (for example sex ads and memes), then turning all this material into drawings or collages, and writing my “diary comics” or make drawings when something comes up.

What series and / or project are you currently working on?

I’m working on CHEGO CHECK 2017~2018. CHEGO CHECK is the title of the collection of my daily life cartoons, which I started making in 2010. Right now, I’m selecting the drawings which I made in Belgium to create a portfolio for my final show at HISK.

What are the challenges you face as an artist working in Belgium today?

Getting my work displayed in a good gallery or art space in Belgium. I also have issues with my visa to stay in Belgium as an artist.

How do you see yourself fit into the country’s contemporary art scene?

My artwork is about contemporary issues, from feminism to immigration.

Talk to us about the people around you, your local scene. To what extent does it inspire and influence you?

I’m currently in my second year at HISK, in Ghent. I see and meet artists from all around the world every day, and who use a lot of different media and practices.

To you, what role should contemporary art occupy in the community?

To make people feel and think; to move them.

Which Belgian artists do you follow, look at for inspiration? Either from the past or the present.

I like Joris Van de Moortel, Kasper Bosmans, William Ludwig Lutgens and the Dutch primitive Hieronymus Bosch.

On a more personal note, how does your everyday inform your work?

My everyday inspires me to make CHEGO CHECK, which in turn is my main source of inspiration for my other artwork.

And what do your parents, your family, think of what you do?

They’ve always been supportive, even if they’re not all that interested in art. My parents’ generation didn’t have the same opportunities for higher education, often having to give up on their dreams because of poverty and patriarchal ideology. For instance, my mom wasn’t able to study on due to her sex, while my father couldn’t either as he had to work to support his mother and siblings. He always says how he wanted to become an archeologist, and was envious of students who would pass by while he was working in construction. That’s why they want to support me and give me an opportunity which they themselvs didn’t get to have. My father expects me to become a professor in an art school and my brother’s waiting for me to buy him a Lamborghini. I told them I probably won’t earn lots of money as an artist, but I do want to repay their kindness.

 Somewhere In Between, and Fremdkörper are on display at BOZAR until Sunday 19th August.