Yoonshin Park
Yoonshin Park, installation view of “Passing hours, space in between: I am breathing your air,” 2019. Photo: Courtesy the artist

Yoonshin Park

Riverside, Illinois

Riverside Arts Center

The white walls of the gallery are blank, and in sections on the wooden floor, demarcated by rectangles of white-and-beige-flecked linoleum tile, are pillows. In the back corner of the room, half a dozen pillows are casually stacked, and in the center of the space, more are strewn, rumpled and creased. From the ceiling, white light bulbs hang from wires so long they’re almost grazing the pillows themselves. With the installation lit this way, viewers are lured close to the floor, and from this vantage point, the most subtle and poignant feature of Yoonshin Park’s piece is evident: the pillows are breathing.

An accomplished paper sculptor, the Chicago-based Park crafted each pillow in “Passing hours, space in between: I am breathing your air” (on view through June 11) from delicate white paper, seamed and sewed precisely; inside each is a hidden mechanism inducing the slightest movement in the center of the pillows, mimicking the rise and fall of a sleeping person’s torso. From the paper pillowcases to the bare bulbs and generic linoleum, the exhibition feels clinical, municipal. This installation addresses Park’s interest in transiency and space, and indeed, “Passing hours, space in between: I am breathing your air” suggests some kind of institutional space—a school, office, hospital—in which a group of people have stayed the night.

While there is a surreal quality to these pulsing pillows, Park’s installation encourages the viewer to rationalize and speculate about who the recently vacated people might be, under what circumstances they are without a bed to sleep in, and, most importantly, what kind of impact this situation may have had on them. In the quiet gallery, the moving paper crinkles softly, and the animation of the pillows makes the room feel far from vacant. Within Park’s suspended reality are questions about the imprint we have on spaces (and vice versa), and whether we leave something of ourselves behind wherever we’ve been.