Dream of a Spider Women by Korean Jhinryung Oh is unsettling. Set against Nature as a backdrop, the mysterious masked figures frightens and bewilders the viewer at the same time.
[all images from Dream of the Spider Women (2003-2006), © Jhinryung Oh]
Together with my dolls, I dream of rambling around another space. Refusing to accept any codes and meanings, the dolls and I fail to reveal our identity. The woman wandering in the woods is probably my other self that I could only meet in my dreams.
Initially, when I first saw the series, I thought that it was based on a Korean folklore. Without any background knowledge on the photographer or the series, it was hard for me to read deeper into the images. It became apparent that this was a personal body of work only when I found Jhinryung’s statement (in English!) on her site. The masked figures are actually dolls, which are especially meaningful to her, as a director of a doll circus troupe. The series then becomes an exploration of self, stemming from the photographer’s desire to unveil her true nature – a mixture of fantasy and memories; dreams and desires.
Jhinryung is now pursuing an MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. Visit her website to see more of her other works. The series Falling in Love with a Clown is worth going through. Nevertheless, I still don’t like clowns/dolls very much, I think that they are kinda creepy.