Ina Jang Radiator Theatre

May 16–Jun 30, 2022

Ina Jang is an artist who physically engages with the image-making space. In her series, Radiator Theatre, she brings life to leftover pieces of paper from previous projects. Ina carefully paints each shape by hand to introduce lovely textures and colors to this material before orchestrating the abstract forms on a makeshift stage. Arranged in a variety of delicate yet playful ways that evoke a sense of balance and ephemerality, the paper figures are then photographed using direct sunlight.

Silver Eye Scholar and Carnegie Mellon University Senior Justin Villalon writes:

“This series of work stands out to me as it is a unique process-driven and hands on approach to photography that utilizes its ability to document Ina’s impermanent yet laborious practice of repurposing residual materials. These photos are also just so pleasing and bring me so much joy.”

Villalon speaks with the artist about the creation of this series.

Justin Villalon: How did you decide to establish interactions between shapes? And with so many possible combinations, how did you know when a composition was complete?

Ina Jang: Most of them rely on intuition. There are certain combinations that I tend to gravitate towards - curvy, elliptical, and organic lines. It’s worth noting that I also try multiple combinations on the set and see what works best at that moment.

JV: Is any of the balance present in these structures an illusion or are you often confronted with the challenge of gravity?

IJ: The whole idea of ‘theatre’ came to me as I struggled so much with heat and gravity during the shoot. The paper cutouts are most times wobbly and unstable, held together by wires and tacks behind. I’d go back and forth to the set and the camera to secure a few moments to photograph them successfully. It’s tricky to balance them, but magical when it happens.

JV: Once each set for this project was finished, did you preserve any part of what was photographed or was the whole process entirely ephemeral?

IJ: Once the shoot is complete, they are discarded. So far, I kept a couple of shapes for sizing reference only.

JV: What significance does paper hold to you?

IJ: Ubiquity, malleability and its ability to withhold vast amounts of information in an uncomplicated way.

JV: Can you elaborate on your need for physical touch in the image space?

IJ: Seeing imperfection in the image does often evoke intimacy. I don’t know if there’s a ‘need’ for physical touch except for the fact that it is more engaging to me to be hands on in the process of image-making - I simply enjoy it very much. In the physical process, I often discover new ideas as well.

JV: Do you feel you are trying to elicit a particular feeling from the audience with your formal choices in colors and forms? How might this differ across subject matter, particularly between anonymous bodies and abstract shapes?

IJ: Nowadays, I seldom think of the choices made in the work, and if they were made to bring out a specific feeling from the audience. Once the work is made and out in the world to be shared, I have no control over the work and its course of life. Each audience would interact differently each time based on one’s life experiences. So, I focus on what is uniquely mine, and make genuine and intuitive decisions in colors and forms across all subject matter.

Participating Artist

  1. Ina Jang was born in South Korea in 1982 and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Past solo exhibitions include the Museum of Fine Arts in Le Locle, Switzerland, Christophe Guye Galerie in Zurich, Switzerland, Empty Quarter in Dubai, the New York Photo Festival and Humble Arts Foundation. Jang’s work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Dear Dave Magazine, the British Journal of Photography, and Foam International Photography Magazine.