November 5th, 2020


When your darkest moments turn into magic ones – Korean-born Dorothy M Yoon devotes her art to the concept of “This Moment is Magic”. The work of sublimating life experience in fantasy involves a sense of agony, illusion, eroticism and wit – a process of associations, one after another. Swatch presents Yoon’s two new Swatch Art Specials TIME’S MAGIC and POWER OF MAGIC, memorizing magical moments and ready to empower your wrist!

The relation between Yoon and Swatch resembles a love story that started in 2017 during her artist residency at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai. It is also where “This Moment is Magic” evolved. Diagnosed with cancer five years earlier, the artist’s treatment involved an analgesic injection that felt like a magic wand, enlightening one of the darkest moments of her life in the form of Saekdong, a traditional Korean multi-coloured pattern. Core to her art since the concept was born, the magic wand and the joyful colours continue reappearing in her work.  


Dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, the POWER OF MAGIC is limited and numbered to 1976 pieces. It carries the magic wand and comes in a special 3D-packaging, shining bright in Saekdong colours and definitely an artwork itself. TIME’S MAGIC refers to the moment as an idea of time as intangible space and memory as tangible history.


Swatch: Your concept “This Moment Is Magic” has become signature to your work. Can you explain? 

Dorothy M Yoon: This Moment Is Magic can be translated into three features: Magic, Saekdong - the famous South Korean multi-coloured pattern - and Magic Sticks. After my mother had a strange dream nine years ago, she convinced me to do a medical check. I was then diagnosed with breast cancer and the doctor wondered how I could have been aware of something being wrong, as the disease was at such an early stage it would not even cause any symptoms. Thanks to the early treatment, I have recovered and I am still alive. With my art I want to memorize that magical moment, the moment thanks to which I am still alive now and the moments the future will hold for me.  


Swatch: Tell us more about the colours and what they mean? 

Dorothy M Yoon: Saekdong is a very traditional color pattern that everyone in South Korea knows – which is not the reason why I work with it. When I received chemotherapy, it made me feel very vivid – it was like colorful fireworks in my cells. You may perceive it like a rainbow, but what I saw was the South Korean color pattern, Saekdong. The injection felt like a magic wand. The chemotherapy was obviously one of the darkest moments of my life but also the moment when I saw the most beautiful colors. Interestingly enough, the Korean pattern Saekdong is actually said to bring good luck and protect us from evil. 


Swatch: Describe the design of the two watches and explain what makes them so special. 

Dorothy M Yoon: The watches are already special to me – I am the first Korean artist to create Swatch Art Special watches! There is also a chance that with this release my mother will understand what I am doing, because the watches are not as abstract as art. TIME IS MAGIC promises that if you wear this watch, magic will be with you soon. POWER OF MAGIC refers to the magic wand. I’ve always loved the idea to have a magic stick, with a swift movement of your wrist you become whatever you want, save the world, or be a superstar! In Catholicism, all saints have a magic wand, also Moses had one that opened the red sea. In Taoism, old masters have their own magic sticks as well as in Buddhism. With the current global pandemic, we are experiencing very difficult moments – like I did during my chemotherapy. As I did back then, we might need this colorful magic stick to conquer this situation, we need the positive belief. I pray and believe that these two watches can help and give colorful positive MAGIC energy and comfort to the people.


Swatch: The limited and numbered POWER OF MAGIC is dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Swatch Art Peace Hotel. What are your memories from your residency?

Dorothy M Yoon: The Swatch Art Peace Hotel is a magic place to me. I have joined quite a few artist residency programs in the world, however the memories from the Swatch Art Peace Hotel remain very special to me. The time before I went to Shanghai was not easy for me, I was lost, and I had to seriously decide if I wanted to be an artist or not. I was so much in doubt that I even considered another job like a noodle maker. When I was at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel, I felt respected as an artist, and what I did was taken seriously. Especially with the doubts I had, this appreciation was very important to me. Not to forget the incredible view from the kitchen, I even enjoyed washing my dishes! These memories are still very dear to me, I even dream from time to time that I still live and work there. 


Swatch: You even met twice with the Swatch Art Peace Hotel – the second time not in Shanghai but in Venice. What happened there?

Dorothy M Yoon: During my residency at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel I learnt about Swatch Faces, the brand’s presence at the Biennale Arte in Venice with selected artists-in-residence. I was really touched when I received the invitation to join Swatch Faces 2019 but also a little worried – after all, the most reputable artists in the world exhibit there. Once again, Swatch gave me this huge motivation in my life and the recognition as an artist. My experience in Venice also gave me a lot of inspiration and further opportunities: I am now working with 3D augmented and extended reality and am exploring ideas that were born in Venice. And after the Biennale, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul collected parts of my installation!


Swatch: The watches you have designed will be unveiled in the Swatch Store in Seoul – and you converted the Store, too? Tell us more about what you did.   

Dorothy M Yoon: I will show three different works: Magic Answer, Magic Island and Magic Capes. Magic Answer is a canvas discussing if time is God’s very first artwork. Magic Island is a 3D video animation connected to the same concept. It displays as well an UFO taking me with it and giving me extra power! The Magic Capes were designed for the event, because if you have a magic watch on your wrist then you might also need a special costume, as all superheroes do! 


Swatch: Swatch’s new brand campaign is devoted to the concept of “Time Is What You Make of It”. What does “Time Is What You Make of It” mean to you?

Dorothy M Yoon: If you do your best in the very moment and of your time in general, it will never betray you. Be positive, be creative and be yourself! What you do now will have any impact for your future. If Time Is What You Make Of It, then your moment will be magic! 


The Power of Magic by Dorothy M Yoon
Dorothy M Yoon