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?


© By Jiwon Woo 2020

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