Death and Life on the Parabola (2021)
An Sunghi is a photographer from Seoul, South Korea. Her vocation as a pharmacist and maternal experiences have strengthened her realisation that emotional connection based on care and respect are as essential as material resources. Her photography serves as a route to convey the complexity of inhabiting a world of precariousness, fragility and vulnerability.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged humans across the world into being physically, mentally, socially, and economically disconnected. The daily and cumulative number of deaths from COVID-19, like a massacre, disengages us from the dignity of the last phase of human life. This current plight seems like life and death are at the same parabolic coordinate.
In Death and Life on the Parabola, Sunghi juxtaposes images of food ingredients, metaphorically representative of life, and those of graves newly formed in 2020. Her photographs of food, usually encountered in familiar places like market shelves, kitchens, and on plates, is confined to ice to imply the current state we are now facing. Death and life on the parabola suggests two lines of life and death starting from the opposite of both ends and meeting at the vertex of a parabola of freshly dug earth where the deceased are buried. Soil, as witness of the pandemic, is deemed a circular existence connecting life and death, reflecting on Sunghi’s spiritual relationship to Asian agricultural culture.