Christine Jung

Kobe Jackson
→MA GAC 2024

Christine Jung

MFA CER 2024

November 11, 2023, 11:30 AM:
Christine invites me into the least dusty ceramic studio I have ever seen, offering me a cup of coffee. We begin talking about the difference between relating to artists versus non-artists.

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All images taken on site by Kobe Jackson

CJ I do keep in mind the varying levels of entry that people are able to access into my work. I think that’s why I stick to representational work.

KJ Because you want it to be accessible?

CJ I load a lot of concept into my work. There is a level of understanding that one could possibly gain in my work. 100% is inaccessible to everyone else but me, but at any point below 100%, I want people to access at least a little bit.

KJ What are you excited about at the moment?

CJ What is most present on my mind right now are these curse tablets from baths in Britain. They are from before the Roman Empire took over that area, when British people were Celtics. They found that the Celtics had this ritual where they pray to a goddess named Sulis. She was the goddess of this sacred spring that the Romans built the bath house on top of. She was the goddess of healing but also of curses. They created curse tablets whenever they had something stolen from them, in which they wrote to Sulis, bequeathing whatever had been stolen from them to her and saying, now this item is yours and since it’s been stolen from you, you need to go exact revenge on the thief who took it from you. And they always requested disproportionately violent punishments. Even after Romans conquered the area and started assimilating everyone, this ritual continued, but instead of throwing it into the sacred springs, they started throwing it into the rectangular pool. With that history, I’m thinking about imperialism, but also how people take it upon themselves to resolve their feelings of powerlessness.

I want to create an installation where I’ve made my own curse tablets. Having discovered the evidence of someone’s powerlessness, I want to create this environment that feels cold and humid at the same time, like something that sticks to you. I’m hoping to build this platform that I will have the pool inset into and then underneath the platform, I want a couple of humidifiers and bags of dry ice. There’s something about a visceral feeling coming from above the ground. It’s like what haunting is. And so, curses, haunting, that’s something that I’m thinking about, and where does that come from? From people feeling powerless.

KJ Like religion?

CJ I grew up pretty religious. Once I left my parents’ home and started living on my own and thinking, I decided pretty quickly that I wasn’t a spiritual person. Instead, I’m a very earthly person. But this year, I have been open to what it might look like for me to start considering spirituality. I think that could have a lot to do with my new project, this human experience that is universally felt.

KJ Do you feel yourself being drawn more towards Christianity, Pagan, or Pantheistic spirituality?

CJ If I were to draw from my personal experience, it would be Christianity. Were I to draw from my cultural or historical relevance, it would be Buddhism. The Celtic religion is not something that I have any personal or identity connection to, but I am interested in the history of imperialism throughout the world. I find it’s relevant to concepts that are personal to me. I’m open to researching and learning about any religion. Obviously I need to be responsible for the work that I put out into the world. That’s something that I don't shy away from, but I don't want to put work out that feels authoritative on a certain concept, especially a concept that has nothing to do with my personal history.

I want to age my tablets as a way to flatten time. The curses that I'm going to be writing on these tablets are contemporary concerns, but to see them in this installation where they are being excavated, it's almost a time capsule, like a future time traveler has gone to 60 AD and buried their curse tablets in the sacred springs.

KJ These are cat water fountains?

CJ Yeah, I’m making eleven of them for an installation. The original concept was even more complex, but I’ve decided to simplify it. Nibbles was originally a part of it. Nibbles is the baby mouse who Jerry found abandoned on his doorstep and raised like his own son. This was a piece that I initially had as part of the water fountain installation but I separated them because the conceptual part of the work was getting too convoluted. It’s about the generational inheritance of power. Tom and Jerry was a riff off of the stereotypical cat and mouse relationship. Jerry was the one who typically came out on top due to his wiles or smarts. I want to reference that specific relationship and talk about how Jerry, who is seen as the innocent and unblamable one, is actually the one holding the power, and how he passes that on through the generations and how that can be seen out in the world. The reason I made Nibbles look so frightened was because he was initially supposed to be in the cat water fountain installation so I wanted him to react with fear at the presence of cat pee. It’s been scientifically proven that cat pee can induce fear reactions in mice even when there isn’t the presence of cats. It’s about haunting. The cats are absent but they’re still there to haunt you.

Kobe Jackson: artist’s artist, painter’s painter.

Christine Jung is a ceramic sculptor and installation artist interested in the ways, especially subtle or everyday, that power is wielded and navigated by different parties.