Photography festival blurs boundaries between fantasy and reality

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Photography festival blurs boundaries between fantasy and reality


“Aqua” series by Giacomo Costa. Provided by the Seoul International Photography Festival

Photography buffs will have a chance to enjoy world-class photography at the “Seoul International Photography Festival 2009.”

Under the theme “Cross,” the festival opened last month and continues until Jan. 31. The festival, which began in 2006, features photographs by renowned photographers from Korea and abroad.

Through their work, the participating artists explore the boundaries between reality and fantasy, inviting viewers to examine their own assumptions about what they believe is real.

“Cross” represents a “crossing between the real and virtual worlds,” festival curator Chin Sun-hee wrote on the festival Web site. “This year’s festival is organized to maximize the ambiguity between the real and the virtual stemming from encounters between photography’s realistic representations and imaginary digital processing.”

The artistic explorations of this festival are divided into two categories: “Tera Emotion” and “New World or No World.”

The first section, Tera Emotion, expands upon the main theme by presenting images that blur the lines between reality and imagination. “Tera” is a prefix denoting one trillion and is derived from the Greek word for “monster.”

“Viewers are invited to interpret these symbolic images through their multilayered, individual, subjective experiences,” Chin wrote.

Twenty-two photographers from around the world are featured in the second section, New World or No World. Chin describes these photographers as “adventurers exploring new visual images.” Here, the images are fragmented, layered and modified in a variety of ways through the use of digital technology.

One notable work in this section is the “Aqua” series by Italian photographer Giacomo Costa. The blue photographs in the series show urban ruins submerged under water and the artist seems to be warning us against the effects of global warming. The pieces seem frighteningly real and spectacular.

The festival also has special exhibitions dedicated to photographers Philippe Ramette and Alain Bublex.

Ramette, who refers to himself as “a sculptor who uses photographs,” is described by curator Kang Ho-sook not only as a sculptor but also an inventor.

“He is a director who makes his photographs, a writer who creates a scenario with pictures, an inventor who conceives tools for achieving illusions and an adventurer experimenting with such devices as a performer in his photographs,” Kang wrote on the Web site.

Bublex is an artist who is more interested in process than product. The resulting works have a feeling of being incomplete, which leaves them open to interpretation by anyone who sees them.

The festival takes place in the Exhibition Hall of the Garden 5 shopping complex in the Songpa District, southern Seoul. Garden 5 is located near Jangji Station, line No. 8, exit 3. The exhibition hall is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets range from 4,000 won ($3.50) to 8,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2269-2613 or visit

By Yim Seung-hye []
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