Photography and video feature prominently in a new exhibition of contemporary Korean art showing at the Seattle Art Museum’s Asian Art Museum. The exhibition, “Paradox of Place” includes the work of six prominent Korean artists who address history, personal experience, peace, conflict, fantasy, and the political, social and cultural divisions between North and South Korea. Many of the works address transformation, either physical or psychological.
Noh Suntag’s series “strAnge ball,” represented in the exhibition by several small, black-and-white prints, offers multiple views of a radome (a radar dome) constructed by the U.S. Military in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. The radome is ever-present in Noh’s images of the landscape, but by moving his camera and placing the structure creatively in his photographs, Noh alters our perception of the object and explores a range of potential meanings and emotions elicited by its presence.
To create his “Bewitched” works [slides 3-6], Jung Yeodoo photographs subjects in their daily lives, then stages an image that represents his subjects’ dreams or fantasies. In “Bewitched #2 Seoul,” for instance, a young woman who works at a Baskin-Robbins is transformed into an adventurer. Jung has photographed 28 people in 24 countries for the series, using local resources to create sets and costumes.
“Gymnastics of the Foldables” is Yang Haegue’s humorous series of small black-and-white images. The artist moved a common rack for drying laundry into different positions that recall exercise and calisthenics manuals. The exhibition also features a series of Yang’s sculptures created from everyday items.
Lim Minouk’s multimedia installation of a news broadcast set centers on a two-channel video that shows mourners at the funerals of Kim Jong Il and former South Korea president Park Jung-Hee. The video work, which also shows other news stories, emphasizes the shared humanity of North and South Koreans. Eventually the two broadcasts unite as one, offering a vision of a unified future.
Lee Yonbaek’s video work “Angel-Soldier” begins as a view of a multicolor wall of flowers. As the wall begins to shift, the viewer sees soldiers clad in floral camouflage moving throughout the scene.
Another artist, Yee Sookyung, is showing a massive installation created from 24-carat gold leaf and discarded porcelain, as well as a 3D printed representation of an existing statue.
“Paradox of Place” is on display now through March 13, 2016.