Enter the Cosmic Womb

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Welcome to the Cosmic Womb; A world created by JooYoung Choi that is full of expression, imagination, and identity. JooYoung Choi is a Korean-American artist who was born in Korea and adopted by an American family in 1982. She uses sculpture, painting, video, animation, and installations to depict the complex fictional world based on her childhood called the “Cosmic Womb”. Her creation of the “Cosmic Womb” was an escape from the isolation she felt of being the only Asian in a predominantly white New Hampshire community. 

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the “Open World” exhibition at the Oklahoma Contemporary Art Museum, which showcases artwork inspired by pop culture, games, and modern media. One of Choi’s 2018 works which was featured at this exhibit, “Journey Vision 5000 – Sweet Cretaceous Edition”, displays a colorful medley of mediums that consists of hand-drawn animation, old-school news clips, choreographed dances, and upbeat music. Through these methods, Choi portrays a portion of the “Cosmic Womb” that takes place within a Nintendo-like console.

“Journey Vision 5000 – Sweet Cretaceous Edition” features 2 main video sections; Pleasure Vision and Journey to the Cosmic Womb. In “Pleasure Vision”, Choi somewhat unnervingly portrays the loneliness and isolation that she felt as a child. Some impactful moments in the video include an animation of the giving tree swallowing up a young child, a quote that reads “No one’s dries when your eyes get wet and weepy”, and an animation of an Asian girl traveling through a city filled with unidentified animals. Her childhood mindset is reflected in one of the last scenes of the video, which reads: “There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you’ll be free, if you truly wish to be.” Her use of powerful imagery encapsulates the loneliness and isolation of her life in America. In “Journey to the Cosmic Womb”, C.S. Watson, a character played by Choi herself, travels through a quirky world full of puppets, spaceships, and song to reach the Cosmic Womb. Every single frame is filled with movement, and color, which captures the full attention of the watcher. This shift of character implies how she only felt safe within her imaginary world, while she felt rejected by the people around her in reality.

The official motto of the Cosmic Womb is “Have faith, for you have always been loved.” Choi’s extravagant use of powerful, child-like imagery allows us to see the world from her perspective: living as an adopted Korean girl in New Hampshire. I recommend that everyone visit the “Open World” exhibit at the Oklahoma Contemporary Museum of Art.