Jinny Yu
Don’t They Ever Stop Migrating?

Nuova Icona

September 1, 2015

Jinny Yu
Don’t They Ever Stop Migrating?

September 5–November 22, 2015

Opening: Friday, September 4, 6pm
Artist talk: Saturday, September 5, 7pm

Nuova Icona
Oratorio di San Ludovico
Dorsoduro 2552 


Jinny Yu’s site-specific installation at the Oratorio di San Ludovico in Venice, presented during the 56th Venice Biennale, comprises of a large three-dimensional painting with sound. Reflecting on the recent migration crises in the Mediterranean Sea and Bay of Bengal, Yu’s new work Don’t They Ever Stop Migrating? explores one’s position within an increasingly globalized world. Using Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) as metaphor, the exhibitionexplores a range of emotional responses and attitudes towards mass migration. 

Venice serves both as the container for the space of Oratorio di San Ludovico and as a conceptual ground for Yu’s work. Don’t They Ever Stop Migrating? exposes the city’s history as a powerful maritime republic: aplace of mixing cultures,a point of departure and arrival for manifold people and goods and, more recently, a destination for mass tourism—and with it, its inherent problems. The religious context of the exhibition space emphasizes the etherealaspect of the work, combining the solemnity of the venue with the artwork’s repetitive qualities. 

The surface of Yu’s painting is broken up with hundreds of thousands of black ink brushstrokes that resemble a foreign mass, circling at a distance. The abstract marks cover the structure in a vortex, alluding to the threat of them swooping down, perpetuating the sense of unease. Amongst the accompanying chorus of incoherent English words and abstracted voices emerge phrases such as “You don’t think there’s something going around, do you?” and “They’re frightening the children.” The words are remixed, layered and repeated in a rhythmic yet unpredictable sequence of utterances interrupted by eerily segmented silences suggestive of a climax: the invasion by a foreign species. As our eyes and ears attempt to complete a narrative, the painting postulates on terms of migration while poignantly revealing the emotional and instinctual, or perhaps learned and inherited, responses towards the phenomenon of mass migration. This immersive environment questions individual prejudices and core beliefs about who constitutes “the other.” The abstracted marks and collaged sounds in Don’t They Ever Stop Migrating? act to describe a common response of animosity and suspicion towards migration, pointing to the social and political crux of this painting.

Born in the Republic of Korea and working in Canada and Italy, Jinny Yu’s work has been shown widely, including in New York, London, Seoul, Düsseldorf, Miami, Kyoto, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. She is an Associate Professor of Painting at the University of Ottawa and the recipient of numerous grants and awards. She is represented by Art Mûr gallery in Montreal. 

This exhibition is produced by Nuova Icona and supported by Ottawa Art Gallery and Art Mûr gallery.

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