Tyler Coburn

December 8, 2022

A performative presentation of artist and writer Tyler Coburn’s latest book.

Begins at 7pm
Add to calendar

Join us for a talk and presentation about Solitary, a new publication conceived and edited by Tyler Coburn. Solitary is an experiment in site-specific writing made at a wellness center in South Korea designed to resemble a prison. The book explores the intersections of sensory deprivation, monastic life, the wellness industry, the prison-industrial complex, and various histories of solitude. Its contributors include Jaeyeon Chung, Sunjin Kim, Hyunjeung Kim, Kyungmook Kim, Min Kyoung Lee, Woochang Lee, Russell Mason, InYoung Yeo, and Jiwon Yu.

As part of this event, Patricia Eunji Kim will contribute insights and commentary on the book. Dr. Kim is Assistant Professor at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and Senior Editor and Curator-at-Large at Monument Lab.

Copies of Solitary will be available for purchase during the event.

Solitary is a collection of texts written at a wellness center in South Korea designed as a mock-prison. This facility is run by an organization called Happitory—a combination of “Happiness” and “Factory.” Happitory offers retreats for teenagers, company employees, government officials, and the general public. Some sessions involve drama therapy, others are led by Buddhist monks.

Most intriguing is a program called “Solitary Confinement,” where one can spend twenty-four hours of technology-free time locked in an individual cell. To create Solitary, artist Tyler Coburn commissioned ten practitioners (including himself) to spend time in solitary confinement at this wellness center, where they produced texts using the materials on hand. Certain questions drove their writing. How does one square the relaxation promised by Happitory with the way solitary confinement functions in actual prisons? What types of thinking and writing become possible through its restrictions—no book, no Internet, just writing materials? How might the emphasis on writing relate to texts by Oscar Wilde, Kim Dae-jung, Shin Young-bok, and others produced during periods of imprisonment? Taken as a whole, Solitary is unique in being both a collection of texts and a collective artwork: an experiment in site-specific writing.


Conceived and edited by Tyler Coburn

With contributions from Jaeyeon Chung, Tyler Coburn, Sunjin Kim, Hyunjeung Kim, Kyungmook Kim, Min Kyoung Lee, Woochang Lee, Russell Mason, InYoung Yeo, and Jiwon Yu.

Published by Sternberg Press (July 2022) in English and Korean.

Distributed by MIT Press in the United States. Print run of 750 copies

Tyler Coburn is an artist and writer based in New York. He has presented work at Centre Pompidou, Paris; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Bergen Kunsthall; Kunsthalle Wien; Hayward Gallery, London; Para Site, Hong Kong; and Art Sonje Center, Seoul. Coburn is the author of three books: I’m that angel (2012); Robots Building Robots (2013), published by the Center for Contemporary Arts Glasgow; and Richard Roe (2019), published by Sternberg Press. His texts have appeared in e-flux journal, Frieze, ArtReview, DIS, Mousse, LEAP, and Rhizome.

Patricia Eunji Kim, PhD, is an art historian, curator, and educator based in New York City. She is Assistant Professor at New York University and Senior Editor and Curator-at-Large at Monument Lab. Dr. Kim also brings her perspectives as an art historian of the ancient eastern Mediterranean and western Asia to bear on the most pressing social, cultural, and political issues that we face today. Among others, she has written about and curated exhibitions on environmental temporalities, feminist ecologies, and transnational memory cultures. Recent publications include Timescales: Thinking Across Ecological Temporalities (2020) and The National Monument Audit (2021).