Helen Cho uses her current artistic practice as a point of departure to organize a series of workshops leading to the production and exhibition of art/craftworks by participants from communities in the city of Genk. Utilizing techniques, materials and concepts integral to Cho’s current work, each participant creates his/her own art/craftwork, which, in turn, is contributed as a component of a collective installation to be realized on-site. After the exhibition, the art/craftworks are to be returned to the participants; hence, the installation exists only for the duration of the exhibition.
The workshop is based on Helen Cho’s new body of work, which was inspired by a concatenation design by Leonardo da Vinci and the “Six Knots” woodcut engravings by Albrecht Dürer. As conceived by da Vinci, the concatenation design consists of a series of complicated knots from which an unbroken cord could be traced from one end to the other with the whole filling a round space. One point of interest for Cho is a speculation that the concatenation design by da Vinci was to serve as an ornamental pattern for artists of various crafts. Likewise, Dürer’s “Six Knots” woodcut engravings, which are speculated as variations of the concatenation design by da Vinci, also suggest textile applications. Attempts to understand da Vinci’s so-called “decorative puzzle” or “geometric fantasy” have produced esoteric and spiritual interpretations; other visual and mystical affiliations and analogies include the labyrinth and the mandala.
For the workshop, which is integral to Cho’s upcoming installation work, she employs a sculptural deconstruction of da Vinci’s original concatenation design to aid in breaking down the production process. This template or “pattern” is, in turn, used by workshop participants as the basis from which to create their own art/craftwork. Sewing (usually typified as craft or hobby) and leatherette (mass-produced for commercial products) evoke everyday-ness, the ordinary -- least of all, “art.” Yet these individual works are, in fact, “multiples” of Cho’s own work (also derived from aforementioned sources) that invoke questions of original vs. copy and art vs. craft or application. At the same time, each work will inevitably contain its own particular characteristics and idiosyncrasies, indexical to each maker. At the exhibition, these hand-sewn art/craftworks are intended to juxtapose, intertwine and interact with Cho’s own works as one collective, and also “unit-based,” installation.
In her interest in deconstructing the production process of her artwork, Helen Cho is also developing unlimited editions of the “Do It Yourself Art” project. They are intended to be user-friendly and pre-packaged -- not unlike a product available in a hobby shop intended for mass consumption. Based on workshop-based experiences and condensed into this new form, these “kits” contain the basic supplies and step-by-step instructions intended to produce a multiple of an artwork based on a knot design. The intention is for anyone to produce a “DIY” artwork, thereby questioning the role of multiples and fabrication in contemporary art practice.