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October 09, 2008

Bottle Gourds With Faces

Photograph: Bottle gourds with faces.

Bottle Gourds With Faces

Han Jong Gun took a year to create his art installation of bottle gourds with faces for the Singapore Biennale 2008, entitled Evolutional Mythology. His bottle gourds wore many creepy facial expressions that stared at me through tall glass bottles. While many readers would be familiar with bottle gourds as sources of food or as containers, using bottle gourds shaped into faces as art was rather unusual.

cc photo via flickr by Ivan Lian

Bottle gourds (scientific name Lafenaria siceraria) are also known as birdhouse gourd, trumpet gourd, calabash gourd and white-flowered gourd. The term bottle gourd also describes the plant’s use as a container. The fruit is green in colour and can grow up to 12 inches in diameter and 40 inches in length. Most often they are eaten as a boiled vegetable. To create bottles out of bottle gourd, bands are used to constrict the fruits into desired shapes.

At this art installation located at the former restaurant of City Hall, Han Jong Gun’s painstaking work required him to plant gourd seeds, grow them to maturity and then painstakingly fashion the gourd fruit into human-like faces as they matured. His one-year dedication and perspiration produced many faces on gourds that were later kept in glass bottles for exhibition.

There were happy faces, sad faces, angry faces and faces with weird expressions. Placed inside tall acid-filled cylindrical glass bottles, the gourds reminded me of scenes from X files and other movies featuring aliens that kept human species as specimens for scientific research. Best to see this alone, when the evening lights flicker and dim during a thunderstorm to let an icy chill massage your bones.

Read more:
1. Singapore Biennale

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