Korea Bojagi Forum

invited speaker at the 2016 Korea Bojagi Forum

September 4, 2016 @ 10am
Suwon Park Museum of Art
Suwon, Korea
image credit: Do Ho Suh / Lehmann Maupin

The work of the Korea Bojagi Forum coincides with a global reappraisal of the value of craft in contemporary culture. In many cases this has taken on a national emphasis with energies directed towards an understanding of how traditional hand making skills can continue to find relevance in today’s digitally informed societies. In the case of Korea’s Bojagi tradition, recent efforts celebrate the technical and aesthetic skill learnt from historical examples while questioning the role of anonymous production undertaken by women, which has been a historical hallmark of the craft.

The motivation for many of the world’s craft traditions has changed dramatically over the past century. Need and function are now rarely requirements of hand production. Instead emotional and intellectual value of working by hand deserves our reconsideration. Speakers at the 2016 Korea Bojagi Forum held in Suwon proposed comparisons with versions of textile piecing and stitch work local to their own cultures. Working this way gives the bojagi tradition global relevance without homogenising and making generic craft traditions that are nationally or regionally unique.

Contemplation, beauty and patience are frighteningly rare aspects of our increasingly frenetic world. In many cases, the window of opportunity for craft revival is now narrow – skills learnt through observation and haptic experience are a poor fit for text books without the benefit of first hand experience. Instead, initiatives that support conversation, material inspection and demonstration – such as the Korean Bojagi Forum – are crucial for our global understanding of the future relevance of traditional crafts.