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Have you ever heard of a haute couture dress made out of lettuce? Or tomatoes? For a Korean designer, shrimp and eggplants, chives and spring onions, are not the ingredients of some delicious recipe but pieces of her edible couture gowns, which take a considerable amount of time to make but are destined to last for just a few minutes.
Born and raised in Seoul, Yeonju Sung makes clothes that cannot be worn and are not meant to be eaten. "I spend lots of hours at the supermarket, observing the ingredients and figuring out new ways to elaborate them. The way that certain restaurants style their food, is also an important font of inspiration.” Back at her space, half way between a kitchen, a photographer’s studio and an atelier, she documents each one of her compositions with digital images. Afterwards she dismantles the mannequin that serves as a canvas to her idiosyncratic food collages and throws everything away.
They are by fact, objects that fail in function what they seem to fulfill in appearance. Each time, once the digital pictures of her compositions are taken, the artist dismantles the mannequin that serves as a canvas to her idiosyncratic collages from the food and throws everything away. Playing with the fine line that separates lived from imagined experience, she reserves for the audience nothing but the digital proof of her work. “Photography has a power to make us believe” she highlights. “Still, my work is an illusion”. It exists only in the studio and just for a few hours.
With a constant smile in her face, the 26 year old artist narrates that she created her first edible dress for her graduation show while she was still a student at the Hongik University of Seoul. Beginning as a school project and an experiment two years ago, her concept soon evolved into a long-term project that guided her to explore a large number of ingredients and techniques. “By visiting my studio, where a big kitchen dominates the space, one could easily think that I’m a cook!” she says playfully: "Still, I cook very few things and almost never veggies. When it comes to cooking, I have an obsession with eggs and pasta", she says.
In Milan, where Yeonju Sung traveled at the end of March in order to attend the opening of her first solo exhibition in Europe, the colors and shapes of the Italian ingredients at the food markets fascinated her. "I prefer ingredients that are easy to work with, I adore the flexibility of certain crops and their patterns". When it comes to sculpting dresses, her favorites are two classics of the Mediterranean: tomatoes and spring onions. Nonetheless, the installation she created for her Milanese vernissage, a seaweed and artichoke asymmetrical dress, was made of ingredients she is familiar with. “This is the first time that I’m making something to show to the public. My works have never left the studio before. That’s is why, in this case, I worked ingredients that are easier to handle but also less sensitive” she explains.
Her Milanese exhibition will stay open until April 20th at
Via Pietro Custodi 8
Tel. +02 23163069