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AFA Interview: Finding YAWYOU with artists Jaanika Peerna and Chunghee Han

When AFA first started reaching out to artists to conduct the AFA Interview series there was no doubt in my mind that my good friend and brilliant artist Jaanika Peerna should be involved.  Not only is Jaanika an intelligent and passionate artist, but a force of nature when it comes to teaching art (which she has at Dia for several years along with the Visual Thinking Strategies Project for the Soros Foundation )  and organizing projects (like our online project LATATARA). Peerna has now set the bar higher for the quality of AFA interviews, producing, editing and filming her interview with artist Chunghee Han, creating an organic and informative interview that is both beautiful and insightful.

When I asked Jaanika and Chunghee how they both met each other this was their answer:

Jaanika Peerna:  About a year ago in Chelsea, I went to open studios there and found her work enveloping me physically and otherwise..all over. It happens sometimes but not often. There was a click.

Like understanding without words. she being from Korea, me from Estonia sharing someting without having spoken no word. I like communication in these sudden forms that happen.

Perhaps it is infulenced by having my own experience of immigrating and not being able to speak english well.., same way she did. so visual art has immence power and does magic at times in connecting people.

Chunghee Han: I met Jaanika last winter at my open studio in January at my studio in Chelsea at that time. I’d never met anybody who understand my work sincerely like her before, and even it was just her first time she ever seen my work. I remember when she started to talk about my work after she spent enough time in my paper space, it was very impressive moment for me, seeing my work communicate by itself with viewers.

Maelstrom, 2010 by Jaanika Peerna, Pigmented wax on vellum 36 x 36 inches

When asked, “Why do you think you are both interested in each other’s work” they responded:

Jaanika Peerna: I guess I am seeing that she is reaching with her art to the kind of experience of the viewers that are challenging to create..without clear message, political standing, or irony..she is creating spaces that would allow viewers to feel wonder. Wonder about simple things around you that is sometimes hard to feel. Subtle stuff you know… but pretty powerful. These experiences are very specific and universal at the same time. I like that. perhaps I am recognizing something familiar in her pursuit to what I am doing in a somewhat different way in my work; an attempt to catch a moment and let it seep into your whole being and perhaps allowing it to transform you in some meaningful way. Shift the way of seeing, experiencing things around.

Chunghee Han: Her work is very much engaged with nature. Her video works make me slow down. There is not many elements, mostly they are very simply made and they make me pause and listen to the provision of nature.

Especially her drawings, I can stand in front of them all day, fallowing the lines and marks, movements and gestures. All the lines are very direct, momentary, honest, have no plans and rules. But she definitely controls everything on her paper, but some how it is very free. It is like seeing some kind of improvisations and those aspects make all the lines and marks alive in front of me, I feel they have their own breaths. I appreciate every little gestures in her drawings.

Untitled (Paper Space II), 2009 by Chunghee Han

Chunghee Han and Jaanika Peerna: two artists in conversation from Jaanika Peerna on Vimeo.

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