Vacant Buddha: Intricate Paper Sculptures Seem to Disappear

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Deceptively solid-looking when seen from either side, the delicacy of these paper sculptures is revealed if you simply shift your position to view them straight on. Korean artist Ho Yoon Shin coats strips of paper with urethane and attaches them to each other with paper joints to create Buddhas, replicas of famous sculptures and other human figures.

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The translucency of the sculptures is a commentary on what Shin sees as the vacancy of modern society, relating social and political conditions in Korea to Buddhism’s philosophy of emptiness.

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“I am interested in social phenomena and approached the essence of it,” says Shin. “I realized that the closer I approached it, I realized there is no essence. I think it is already intrinsic in me or in you, being judged and evaluated by the inherent values in our things. Therefore, if examined in that viewpoint, I begin to understand why the power group of Korea has wanted to split all kinds of social systems – the right and the left, social classes divided on its economic structure, dominance and subordination, etc.”

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“In the end, it’s a story about the situation and a point where we fill a surface that doesn’t exist… and console and satisfy ourselves.”

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In addition to his human figures, Shin’s paper work includes large-scale installations of highly detailed, curtain-like sheets of paper, including ‘Imegrated Flowers,’ which filled an entire hallway at the Kobe Biennale.