WONDEO LAENDEU (Wonderland)
According to the dictionary, WONDERLAND is:
1. an imaginary land of marvels or wonders
2. an actual place or scene of great or strange beauty or wonder
There are so many places called Wonderland in the world, but are we also dreaming now, as Alice did?
展名「원더 랜드」是英文wonderland音譯的韓字拼音，發音為wondeo laendeu。雖然已有이상한 나라的翻譯（直譯為：奇異之地），不過如同其他外來語的韓字拼音化，外來語與現有詞並行的普遍現象中，相同的意思人們傾向於認為音譯的名字顯得更有神秘的異國風情。此處以韓化的翻譯為名，雖然人們已經看過各種（模擬的）仙境（이상한 나라），而wondeo laendeu（원더 랜드）在此彷彿被異化成了一個新的、未知的，熟悉又陌生的美好之地。
Humans are always dreaming for somewhere pure, perfect without sorrow. The concept of “wonderland” is present in many languages and cultures. For example ‘仙境’ in Chinese means ‘the place where gods live’.
We might have been to many of these wonderlands. The name is often used in book titles (the most famous one is probably Lewis Carroll’s 19th-century novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) movies, music, art, and it has become a common name for playgrounds, shops and even the name of an apartment.
But have we really been to Wonderland yet?
On one hand, we have indeed ‘been there;’ we have been to those places of the same name or at least somewhere similar. On the other hand, we have not been there, because a true wonderland does not exist in the real world. They are all just a fantasy of a perfect world. The so-called ‘wonderlands’ are just beautiful illusions mimicked by poets, writers, artists and businessmen.
In the exhibition, I attempt to discuss the definition of ‘wonderland’ further. Everyone has different thoughts about that ‘unbelievable beautiful land.’ What is the basic element for a wonderland? A fun family dinner? A nice bonus after hard work? A perfect romance like the ones in Korean TV drama? Or.............
The relationship between reality and unreality has always been a very important element of my work. The word “unreality” here does not mean fake, but tries to describe the unknown and untouchable part of reality. What is true? What is fake? Is there a grey area between real and unreal? Or there is no room for discussion, like two poles of a magnet?
The concept of ‘Wonderland' is like a TV drama in that it is unreal. It covers many difficulties in real life and only expresses the beautiful side. But for me, in some way this “unreal" part is also real at the same time. The beautiful side also reveals people's desire for perfect love or an ideal life. Through the desire of chasing a beautiful, unreachable illusion, it highlights our most real emotions and thoughts, as well as modern humans’ spiritual or material demands.
Why are we always seeking a better place?
Located near Dadeapo beach at the southern end of Busan, the Hongti Art Centre is surrounded by factories. Inspired by them, for this exhibition I made a installation with similar look and system including a long automatic sliding gate, a huge area between the gate and the door, a big door that seldom opens, a dog that only can be heard, and a big sign in a highly visible position. There are also some strange elements seems like fragments from life: A ‘어서 오십시오(welcome)’ mat from a restaurant, a sensor door light from someone’s house and a big fake grass mat on the ground. Otherwise, it looks just like a factory with the name of 원더 랜드.
The Korean name on the sign, “원더 랜드” is a phonemic translation from English word “wonderland,” which is pronounced “wondeo laendeu” in Korean. Although there is already a Korean word 이상한 나라 (which literally means “strange land”) that could be used as the translation of “wonderland,” it is common to use phonemic translated words from foreign languages nowadays. Somehow, between the two different words with the same meaning, one from the local language and one from a foreign language, people found the translated one is more attractive, mysterious, and exotic. The work/exhibition has a twice-translated name from English to Korean to English “Wondeo Laendeu,” which makes the ‘land’ more localised and closer to the audience. Although we all have seen many (mimic) wonderlands in books, movies or playgrounds, in here, the ‘wondeo laendeu’ is an alien version of the concept of wonderland: local but foreign, familiar but strange, a new and unknown but wonderful place.
No one has been to wonderland. We cannot prove whether such a place really exists or not. The only thing we can do now is to find what might ‘belong’ to the wonderland by discussing what does not belong there. Through the experience of culture, languages, and life, we seek for the definition of this ideal place. Maybe we can only shape that place from somewhere very far away, as we try to draw the phantom from our imagination.