Profile: Sung-A Yoon
Sung-A Yoon (KR/FR, 1977) is an atypical example of an “artist-filmmaker”: instead of producing films for an arts context, she works both in and between the distinct parameters and production processes of the film and the art worlds. In doing so, her work alternates between video installations (at the Busan Biennale, Jeu de Paume, and recently Freestate II in Oostende) and documentary and fiction films (shown internationally at film festivals including at Cannes in 2008). Consequently, she infuses her art work with the precision of a tussen verschillende generaties en tradities, filmmaker, and her films with the freedom of the artist. Born in Korea, raised in France, and based in Brussels since 2004, Sung-A Yoon’s work is often concerned with states of translation and displacement, using speech and music as tools to explore the subjacent relations between personal memory, family history and cultural identity. Interested in the idea that loss engenders a residue, Yoon searches in language and music for the ways in which absence can manifest itself.
Her latest short film La pianiste is the most recent different generations and traditions, exploring installment of an ongoing project in which Yoon interrogates the relationship between music and public space in different cities around the world. Attempting to film the invisible, Yoon invites the spectator to listen to music that is embedded in a specific context. In La pianiste the context is that of a five-star hotel in Seoul where a pianist dressed in an evening gown plays Chopin’s Nocturnes (among other tunes) in the lobby. Although she’s dressed and lighted as if she were on stage, nobody pays attention to her. The pianist is incredibly lonely, in the midst of the comings and goings of busy passers-by. Often auto-biographical, Sung-A Yoon’s work is undeniably personal, a first-person cinema in which she sometimes even plays herself.
Full of Missing Links, her first feature-length documentary, is possibly her most personal and ambitious work to date. After having her first child, Yoon set out to find her long-lost father, whom she hadn’t seen since the separation of her parents when she was still a child. Travelling to Korea with her boyfriend and son, a video camera, and a sound recorder, she documented the whole process. A funny and tender family travelogue, Full of Missing Links is also a clinical examination of society and culture in Korea, a country which – like Sung-A herself – has been marked by separation.