BeomJu Ko (b.1996) graduated Kyungsung University with a B.F.A in Interior Architecture Design. He worked in a major museum for two years, where he worked between the exhibition halls and the storage spaces; he gained frequent and close exposure to national treasures and relics. Inspired by those close encounters, he continues to work on themes of treasures and relics.
When the present passes beyond our immediate existence in space-time, it becomes the past. There, the artist identifies two possible futures for that moment. One is to be forgotten and gone. The other is to become treasured, a valued relic. Between this duality and across digital media, sculpture, flat painting, and design, Ko is fleshing out his own visual art.
He approaches his practice with the self-determined mindset of an archaeologist. Excavation in that context becomes the careful reconsideration of the periphery, and iterative practices eventually result in the unearthing of treasures. The term treasure evokes something sophisticated or elaborate, but the artist describes it as something requiring effort and even consideration for the trivial or even the unexpected. At other times, it can be something that he had cherished all that time.
TRAVI is a recurring character that the artist frequently introduces in his works as an avatar. TRAVI maintains an ambivalent stare despite the numerous ways he appears: sitting on a box, looking at a small flower, or holding a broken hat in his bosom. Sometime in the far, far future where all knowledge and trace of the present has been lost, these treasures and relics are rediscovered and analyzed with the hopes of using them as portals to a different time and age where they made sense, where they had meaning. Possibly after eons, gold survives as the immutable substrate of value, and the surviving things of the past are cast across time in gold.
Working between metaphors of time, treasure, relics, and how they all fit together, the artist opens a plot of questions, encouraging spectators to step on in to start excavating what is valuable to them.
"Much like the untarnished days of youth and the palpitations of first love, my work aims to evoke a sense of longing for cherished memories and bygone times."
"I perceive my creative process as akin to that of an archaeologist. This metaphorical excavation compels me to reconsider the things around me and to reflect on the past. In the course of this constant introspection, I have discovered my own artifacts—my treasures. Some findings were so quotidian that they were previously overlooked, while others were always cherished. I hope my works inspire viewers to adopt a similar archaeological approach, delving into their psyche, their past, ultimately leading them to their unique treasures."
"My creations encapsulate all the precious entities that have faded into history, serving as protective cocoons for these treasures. Today, we are confronted with numerous environmental challenges, such as the climate crisis, extreme weather phenomena, plastic pollution, species extinction, and the discharge of contaminated water from Fukushima, among others. Our reality seems bleak, teetering on the brink of despair. The trajectory of humanity appears to be steering towards a barren ecosystem, devoid of life.
Yet, I firmly believe there is a glimmer of hope even in this desolate landscape. Whenever I feel my resolve faltering, I promise to seek out that sliver of hope. The treasures we have enjoyed, and continue to cherish, are testaments to our capacity for change. They are worth our efforts to safeguard. I pledge to continue to practice what I can do each day to contribute to this change."