Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Hyekung Jung "Sofa"

I have read at least one festival programme preview for Hyekung Jung's movie Sofa (2001) describing the two characters in the comedy as living in two adjacent apartments. It may be true though the two could easily inhabit the same room but live separate lives. Such a scenario would make greater sense. The movie comprises a fixed view of a sofa within a split screen: in one section is the female stroking her cat in a manner that has more to with her own boredom and repression than it does the welfare of the animal; in the other the male is bored witless, scratching, yawning, doing handstands, banging his head against the wall, attempting copulation with and eating the sofa. The female slams the cat against the sofa, drags the cat, holds it by its tail, falls asleep and the cat escapes. Are the man and woman to be united? They certainly appear to be preparing to end their frustration. There's one moment when she raises her dress to reveal rather bold red dotted underwear. Is the real woman to be released and is that a wolfish grin directed from him to her as the sofa is rearranged? The absurdist piece is immaculately designed and animated throughout, whilst the range of activities given such a restricted set is ingenious and subtly observed. As a study in repressed desire the three minute short is a classic. A split screen is hardly a new idea but is here most intelligently and expertly utilised. Born in Seoul in 1970, Hyekung studied Art at the Seoul National University of Technology, moving to her animation course at the Academy of Art in Kassel from 1996 to 2004, obtaining her masters in 2004. Her professor was the magnificent Paul Driessen (look out for the forthcoming Sunday Classic). Since 2005 Hyekung has been a lecturer in animation at the following universities: Hongik, Sangmyung, Chunggang and Nazarene.

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