My Beautiful Laundromat Sarubia

2002 ~ 2003, Mixed media, photograph, each photo: 50.8 x 36 cm, laundromat: 360 x 360 x 220 cm, signboard: 220 x 156 cm
What are the realities and possibilities of the social relationships between I, an openly gay man and an artist in my 30’s, and other men in Korean society (a traditionally homophobic and patriarchal culture where male relationships are hierarchically pre-determined by age and social status)? In trying to answer this question, I launched the project, “My Beautiful Laundromat Sarubia,” for which I constructed a small laundromat in the exhibition space. I then invited “Adult Korean Males” to visit this makeshift laundromat. While they waited, I washed, dried and ironed the clothing that they had been wearing. There was no restriction as to what these articles of clothing could be: they just had to be worn by the visitor to the laundromat space and taken off in my presence. Deciding how many items of clothing to take off determined his degree of nudity. Before returning the clothes to the owners, I photographed them. These photographs become the only evidence of my one-on-one interaction with the male participants during the three-hour “laundry session.” The gallery visitors were unable to witness the laundry process, and in order to imagine what had happened between the two men in the laundromat, they had to rely on the written description of the project, the photographs of the laundry, and other clues. As such, within “My Beautiful Laundromat Sarubia,” the laundry process remains the personal experience of the two men in the Laundromat. The visitors outside the laundromat are left to imagine and interpret what had happened inside.