Artists unveil a community’s hurt

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Artists unveil a community’s hurt

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“Bite Your Bullet” by Rho Jae-Oon, left, and right, “Little Chicago” by Kim Sang-don. Provided by the organizer

“A Walk to Remember; A Walk to Envision” at Insa Art Space in Jongno, central Seoul, is a collection of archives, screenings and symposiums that recollect the history of Dongducheon, an area known for its U.S. military camp.

The show is based on artists’ visits, interviews and dialogues, and explores the conflicts and regrets of a community that has suffered years of isolation due to issues concerning mixed-raced children, prostitution and violence.

The project began in 2006 as part of a collaborative program called “Museum as Hub” with the New Museum in New York. The initial idea behind the project was to encourage nonprofit art galleries around the world to develop a collaborative module as they work with a local community to explore new possibilities of contemporary art dialogue.

The New Museum has set up partnerships with Mexico, Egypt and the Netherlands so far.

The project with the Insa Art Space in Korea started in Dongducheon, a town noted for its complex political history dating back to Japan’s colonization of Korea (1910-1945) to when the US armed forces were stationed there during the last half century.

For the current show, the gallery has commissioned four artists. Kim Sang-don presents “Disco Plan: Workshop to Revive Camp Nimble,” a workshop that allows the area’s residents to participate in a discussion to reclaim the base. Because of major soil pollution, the local defense ministry blocked off Camp Nimble with an iron fence in 2006 so residents can’t enter.

The artists collaborated with residents to gather objects that contain herbs and plant seeds that have healing effects and threw them over the fence.

In “Narrow Space,” Jung Eun-young collected images of houses and buildings where female migrant workers from the area’s military clubs live and incorporated them into a single channel video with a voiceover of chatting and prayers coming from the rooms.

Rho Jae-Oon reconstructed classic Hollywood war movies that question our perceptions of war, race and violence. In “A Song that Calls Saliva,” Koh Seung-wook raises an issue of appropriation for subjects in history that have been veiled in biases.

The Dongducheon project is an act of raising consciousness about forgotten history and the trauma of war that one community has experienced.

“A Walk to Remember; A Walk to Envision” runs at Insa Art Space, central Seoul, through Aug. 24. Go to Anguk Station, line No. 3, exit 3, and walk in direction of Changdeok Palace for 10 minutes and then turn left at the alley where you can see the palace and the Hyundai building. The gallery is next to the Museum of Korean Buddhist Art. Call (02) 760-4723 or visit www.insaartspace.or.kr.


By Park Soo-mee Staff Reporter [myfeast@joongang.co.kr]

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