Two friends leave the room and walk in different directions.
Review by Astrid Gallinat (Artificialis, Bologna) 2017, www.artificialis.eu
“Two friends leave the room and walk in different directions” is a textile banner, which Thyra Schmidt created during her stay at the pink factory’s international residency program in Hongcheon, South Korea. The artwork was conceived in situ for the group exhibition Moving Shadow at the Hongcheon Art Museum in September 2017. Presented at the facade of the building, it was stretched through the loggia of the entrance, contrasted by the beneath museum’s sign with its golden letters on black ground.
On the white banner, there are red and green Korean characters: the translation of the originally German title-giving sentence. Thyra has chosen red for “Two friends” and “in different directions” and green for “leave the room and walk”. Due to the grammar difference between Korean and West Germanic languages there are two sentences in the translation. Also, the middle part of the original sentence is split, so that there are two red and two green parts. Furthermore, a one-to-one translation was impossible, but the artist discussed with the translator different options to find the most consistent transmission.
The regional street advertisings inspire the design, material and suspension of the banner. Numerous of these commercial signs can cover entire facades. They indicate information about product offers or enterprise location and are often multi-coloured. In Thyra’s work the red was chosen for its signalling effect and underlines the – for her – most important text parts. Green is the complimentary colour to red and intensify the radiate effect of its counterpart. Since images in the typical advertisement are unusual, the artist didn’t use them either. Whereas announcements of events and exhibitions are usually placed in special frames with a pre-specified format apart from buildings.
Thyra’s sentence contrasts the commercial messages. For the Korean public it had more a private or a complex philosophical character. In particular, if perceived as personal statement, the banner astonished, since it was located at a public building. Therefore, it was recognised as the private in public space. Others, notably European beholders, saw a more political inspired reference. This might be evident, with regard to the location in South Korea and its historical separation of North Korea.
Nevertheless, Thyra does not want to specify any interpretation. In the contrary, she hopes that “when read, an imaginary picture emerges. In the best case, many changing images. Images that evoke different associations. Images that allow complex interpretations.” (Artist statement)
At the same time, the artist deals with texts also as image. The two different colours of the sub-sentences could symbolise as well the by the text content given separation of the two friends. Moreover, the full stop in the Korean splits the described actions: the quitting of the room and the division of the friends. A certain symmetry of the resulting image refers formally to the symmetry of the building.