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60-Year-Old Taste, 2017

Sticky rice, 60-year-old homemade Nuruk, commercial Nuruk, silicon, and more. Dimensions variables

Makgeolli is a slightly sweet alcoholic beverage native to Korea. It is made from rice or wheat mixed with Nuruk, a Korean fermentation starter made of fungi yeast, and bacteria collected from nature.


This installation compares a 60-year-old, homemade living Nuruk inherited from the artist’s grandmother, with a mass-produced Nuruk purchased commercially. Exploring this invisible living organism, the artist provokes critical thinking to reconsider the meaning of ethnological and traditional culture from a non-human-centric view. Despite legal prohibitions during the Japanese colonization of Korea, and periods of intense poverty following the Korean War, the Makgeolli brewing tradition was successfully passed down by a few Korean households forming their own Nuruk. While every Korean home once followed their own Makgeolli recipe, mass-produced Nuruk monopolizes and simplifies the taste of the product through lab-developed agglomeration.


What is the relationship between history, genealogical heritage, and culture, alongside invisible living matters that are so centric to these things, but have been so readily dismissed?

Nuruk, Makgeolli, Jiwon Woo
Hang a li, Nuruk, Makgeolli
Nuruk fungi, hand sculpture, Jiwon Woo
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