Humanity in the Age of Credit

When he was about twenty years old, Sungho Cho left his hometown Cheongsong in Korea, for the capital Seoul to study metalwork and jewellery there for four years. After that he spend many years in Europe to expand his artistic abilities in Florence and Munich. It made him a global citizen. He knows his way around the world, but he feels that somewhere during this development he lost something. Looking at the faces of people around the globe, he recognizes his own amongst them. How do they connect, where do they shelter? Are many of them adrift? What is life like for the cosmopolitan soul?

Modern life appears to be the pinnacle of freedom, yet everyone is caught in a network of innumerable connections and systems. In the past you could get around with a suitcase and a fair amount of money, but nowadays we live in the age of the credit card... Gold was exchanged for plastic, and every step we take, any drink we buy, it is all recorded somewhere in a computer. Your every move is up for scrutiny, together with all other personal information that can be stored on these cards. As life's become more and more uprooted, everyone's privacy and freedom are the primary casualties.

Sungho Cho made jewellery for the new citizens of the world. He uses their abstracted portrait as his point of departure and expired credit cards as his working material. In doing so, he gradually turns the plastic back into a precious substance, and - even better - all personal information stored on the cards gradually evaporates. He makes us aware of a new aspect of contemporary life and presents us with a reminder that we should guard our freedom.
To heavy a burden for a piece of jewellery? The bright colours and pleasing patterns of the obsolete cards - eye candy designed by advertising agencies - will mellow the message in an agreeable way.

Ward Schrijver
(© Galerie Rob Koudijs)

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