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Birthday Garden (2022)

Yaloo is an artist from South Korea who uses digital media and technology to create interactive artworks. In Birthday Garden, Yaloo invites us into an immersive underwater garden inspired by coming-of-age stories and symbols of Korean culture. The work follows her journey through memories and experiences of culture, at home and around the globe, to explore identity and gender roles in our consumer-driven, hyperconnected world.

Set in an undiscovered archaeological site from the future, the work connects stories told across generations of a fictional Korean family to aspects of present-day Korean culture. We enter the artwork through a temple-like gateway, followed by a pond and a shrine to seaweed. Seaweed is a recurring image in the work because of its importance in Korean culture. Traditionally eaten as a soup on birthdays, this comforting ritual holds memories for Yaloo which are threaded throughout her work.

Central to the artwork is a glowing altar in the shape of a sheet mask which shows images of guardian fairies dancing to K-pop. The dance moves represent different generations of a family and have been devised by Anna Franco, David Hitchmough, members of the University of Liverpool’s K-pop Society and a group of young people from Liverpool. You can learn the dance moves by picking up an activity sheet or searching ‘FACT Liverpool’ on YouTube.

Yaloo guides us to excavate fragments of Korean culture which have been traded and sold for global consumption. By merging these fragments with her personal and collective experiences of Korean culture, Yaloo reclaims their meaning to encourage us to forge our own path through the world.

Installation environment with multi-channel video, sound, sculpture

Sound by Yetsuby. Animation Assistant: Ha Min Song. Production Assistant: Hyejin Woo. With thanks to Seungtaek Lim, Bobae Kim, and Dew Kim. Commissioned by FACT. Supported with funds from Arts Council England, Liverpool City Council, The Hemby Trust and Medicash Foundation.