Action 3: Practice the Embarrassed silence of cultural distance

Use up to 15 objects.

Objects are to be:

  • without hierarchy,
  • no transcendence,
  • that reveal everything about themselves


According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of culture is the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time, and the distance is the amount of space between two places. The cultural distance, a combination of these two words, is used as a negative rather than a positive meaning. Meetings of two different cultures in human history often caused conflicts, and the experiences made people defensive. Therefore, being forced or experiencing different cultures can be embarrassing or unpleasant. However, cultural distance has become an issue of overcoming as this world is changing into a multicultural society. So how far is it if the gap could be metered?

I still live indoors barefoot and sleep on the floor with a thin bed like many people in Korea. So, the difference between sedentary and standing culture is an on-going issue for me. When I first lived abroad, the cold floor, soft mattress and the tall dining table were not comfortable. Starting with cutting off the legs of the existing dining table, a part of my home has changed to fit the sedentary life. A sedentary lifestyle is not just a matter of sitting or sleeping on the floor. Not only does the living environment change to suit the lowered eye-level, but it also affects bones and muscles due to the sitting or sleeping position. However, some of it was still in its original form. As a result, I had to go back-and-forth between two worlds with different eye-level several times a day. The distance is 42 centimetres, as long as the length of the cut of the leg. It may be distant or close, but it is not hard for me.

I hope that silence in the face of other cultures is not a preparation for defence but a deep breath for overcoming it.