Jesa (제사) is a ceremony commonly practiced in Korea, functioning as a memorial to the ancestors of the participants. In Joseon era, people would carry a painting of Jesa instead of the actual setting when they had to move away from home. Jesa is a portal. Jesa paintings are portals translated onto a flat surface.
My grandmother on my mother’s side moved from the North to South during Korean war. My grandfather lost his mother in the same war, moved to Japan, and came back to Korea after earning a degree from a university Japan. They married soon after. Since then my grandmother has been practicing “Jesa” for more than 40 years, organizing, preparing food, teaching her children how to do it, yet without the right to step on the mat her husband and sons were stepping on. But, to me, “Jesa” is her. To think about family, home, the culture that shaped my upbringing, there is always her presence. This piece is for me, but also my grandmother—people who left, and people who are left.

©2024 Jeewon Kim. All Rights Reserved.
PDF portfolio and CV available upon request.