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Before the Roar

Installed in OTHER STRUCTURES at SFSU Fine Arts Gallery
April 28th – May 28, 2023

Videography: Nathan Kosta; edited by Sun Park




Upheld by chains and clear strings stretched like ligaments, Before the Roar and ooooo takes on the form of two waves rising from a water’s surface as if to meet like sea arch. A translucent and scaly membrane with scab-like layers of sand and toasted gochugaru, and a coat of blue fleece and sheep’s skin, glitter, and plants that border places familiar to the artist. These thin veils of skin feel slippery, as if some unknown creature has glided across its surface leaving behind a mucus that has since hardened, and another that has lost pieces of its protective coat in transit. At the base of ooooo, a video fills a hole within the soft and slimy surface, from above we see a porous and pulsating crust leaking fluid. Peering under the skin, a bodily system is exposed: slow oozing of yellow slime becomes a rush of pus, slowly obscuring our view, as if flushing out a wound.

Surrounded by a crescendo of trickling sounds that can trigger a form of frisson, we must assume what we are standing within is an environment that is alive. Sun Park creates fantastical habitats and dreamscapes from places known to their current and past selves. These cavernous spaces become cocoons for self-soothing through ancestral and self-driven ritual, with objects enchanted and common: pine incense (a cleansing tool in Korean folk magic), the mixing of slime with rice, sand, ocean salt and table salt, and Korean chili powder. Exploring the evolution of self through ceremony, Park reckons with their upbringing within white evangelical institutions and looks to stimming, Korean shamanism, tactile experiencies of place, and the innate knowledge of the body, to split the surface of experience and make room for new skin to grow. This process of molting is both a vulnerable shedding and an armored growth. The exoskeletons that Park creates are in flux, preparing for each next stage. The religion or culture in which one is born into is a cloak draped over you by others, a skin bequeathed. With Park’s personal and family history criss-crossing the Pacific, with roots in Korea, the ocean becomes a site to submerge and emerge–a backyard and a channel towards heredity.

Immersed in the sounds of a leaking body, we are reminded of the wetness underneath the skin, our own inner oceans, and briefly, we experience our own submergence.

Dionne Lee PDF catalogue link



Before the Roar (2023) Slime, sand, beaded fishing line, speaker wire, ceramic, toasted gochugaru.

Photo: Whit Forrester
Photo: Whit Forrester

ooooo (2023) Five minute looping video, fleece, glitter fabric paint, sand, toasted gochugaru, beads, embroidery, sea salt, table salt, slime, outer leaves of succulents, eucalyptus bark, faux fur, ceramic, metal split rings, string, wire, speaker wire, power cords, pine, pine incense, sheepskin, inkjet prints, shredded yarn, vinyl, cyanotype, digitally printed velvet, rice.

Photo: Whit Forrester
Photo: Whit Forrester
Photo: Whit Forrester

The Girl Turns Away; The Pymorphia Looks Within, Without (2023) Looping 3 minute audio via bluetooth headphones, inkjet printed booklet, faux fur, beaded fishing line, fishing line, vinyl, speaker wire, string, ceramic, fabric paint, sand, toasted gochugaru.

Voiceover by Alyson T Wong

Photo: Whit Forrester
Photo: Sun Park
Photo: Sun Park

Viewers were invited to wear headphones, read booklet, take off shoes, and sit or lay on the velvet cushions.
Available upon request: shoe covers, large format versions of booklet text, small format of velvet cushion to be held or touched.


Photo: Whit Forrester


Sun Park / ABOUT
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