Flowers Gallery is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of new photographic works by South Korean photographer Boomoon, on view for the first time in New York. In the exhibition Falling Water, the powerful elemental force of a vast Icelandic waterfall is presented as the subject for Boomoon’s ongoing investigation into the infinite and everchanging character of the natural world.
The exhibition features images from Skogar, a selection of black and white photographs from a series of 300 exposures taken at Skógafoss, Iceland. Photographed from the same frontal viewpoint, Boomoon’s images capture his bodily encounter with the waterfall, intensified by entering the freezing water of the pool below the falls, to attain a position where the ‘horizon’, (in this case, the point at which the vertical energy of the falling water meets the horizontal axis of the pool) is situated precisely at the lower third of the frame.
Alongside images from Skogar is a second series of photographs, developed from the same body of water, this time featuring an intense monochromatic blue. Boomoon attributes the crystalline clarity of his reductive monochromes to the stark purity of northerly light, saying: “The direction that interests me most in my work is North: it seems to offer landscapes that are the least contaminated by words and meaning.”* Cropped closely to exclude the horizontal plane, they focus on the all-over abstract patterns formed by the arrested motion of the cascading water, capturing a kinetic energy reminiscent of twentieth century American Abstract Expressionist painting. Beyond the shape-shifting bodies of water and veils of spray, the images plunge into seemingly immeasurable depths, while droplets at the surface evoke a glittering cosmos.
Devoid of an internal sense of scale or proportion, Boomoon’s images appear to extend beyond the limits of an individual subjective standpoint or personal expression towards a more universal experience, containing the energy of the encounter with the waterfall. He has said: “My photographs are not self-expression, nor do they carry a message. They are simply the embodied result of my interactions with my surroundings.” Boomoon has described his process as “immersive”, using the camera as a tool to engage in an active response to his encounter with the phenomenon of the waterfall. Since the 1990s he has referred to this activity as “photographic respiration”, a tripartite relationship which, as author Catherine Grout describes, “corresponds to a phase, a dynamic exchange between the artist, a moment in the world and (...) the image being made.” **
According to Poet and Critic Shino Kuraishi, Boomoon’s minimal waterfalls dispense with continuity or a sense of passage between past and future - delivering us instead into the ‘here and now’ of the present moment. He says: “The destination or the end of time is permanently postponed. The waterfall keeps falling self-recursively, aimlessly, and meaninglessly carrying the undetermined present. The waterfall descends defying associations of any other place and any other time." ***
Born in Daegu, 1955, Boomoon currently lives and works in Gangwon Province, South Korea. Having started out as a painter, Boomoon began to explore photography in the early 1970s and enrolled in the Photography department at Chung-Ang University, Seoul. Throughout the 1970s, Boomoon passionately recorded the rapid transformation taking place in Korean society, looking at deserted villages and the heightening contrast between rural and urban communities. Since the 1980s, Boomoon has produced large format photographs of vast expanses of sea, sky and land as a means of self-reflection, which Charlotte Cotton has described as contemplating “the unknowable and uncontrollable character of nature.” ****
Boomoon has exhibited widely internationally and his work is in the collections of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; Leeum, Seoul; Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama; and Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul. From October 2013 to January 2014, a retrospective exhibition of Boomoon’s major landscape series was held at the Daegu Art Museum in South Korea. Entitled Constellation, the show gave a comprehensive overview of Boomoon’s practice and confirmed his importance as a photographic artist.
* Boomoon, interviewed by Alexander Strecker, LensCulture, Published January 2017
** Catherine Grout, “Photographic Respiration. Essay on Boomoon’s Art” (provisional title), to be published 2018, Kim Art Lab, Yongin, Korea.
*** Shino Kuraishi, Falling, Ceaselessly Falling. Boomoon, Skogar, Kim Art Lab, Seoul, Korea, 2016.
**** Charlotte Cotton, The Photograph as Contemporary Art (Third Edition, 2014, originally published in 2004). Thames & Hudson, London. Pg. 103.