Artists pay tribute to Sewol disaster victims

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Artists pay tribute to Sewol disaster victims

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Artist Sohee Cho’s photo series “Garden Balsam Prayers 304” shows the praying hands of 304 volunteers - the number of victims of the 2014 Sewol ferry sinking. The series is part of an exhibition at the Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art that starts Saturday. [GYEONGGI MUSEUM OF MODERN ART]

Beginning Saturday, an inflatable sculpture of a black lotus flower by artist Choi Jeong-hwa will be installed in front of a memorial alter in Ansan, Gyeonggi, for victims of the Apr. 16, 2014, Sewol ferry sinking tragedy.

And at the nearby Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art will be shown diverse artworks, ranging from a painting by Park Eun-tae that depicts the families of Sewol victims desperately waiting for the rescue of their loved ones at Paengmok Harbor to an installation piece made of various objects found at the port by artist Soun Hong.

They form the exhibition “April, the Eternal Voyage” organized by the museum in memory of the Sewol tragedy. A total of 22 artists participated in the exhibition which starts on Saturday - exactly two years after the disastrous accident caused the loss of 304 people including 250 Danwon High School students.

“About two-thirds of the exhibits have never been shown to the public before,” Choi Eun-ju, director of the museum, said at a press conference last week. “A half of them were commissioned by us for the exhibition. The other half had been created and kept privately by some artists. They were so shocked and depressed by the accident that they couldn’t help creating something about it, while not knowing they would show the works to others later.”

According to the director, the museum has had strong ties with the families of the Sewol victims. At their request, the museum has let part of its space be used for an association of the families and government officials dispatched for the funeral procedures.

Many of the exhibits are touching and lyrical. On a black wall of a dark room are 304 twinkling points of light just like stars in the night sky or “The Faces of Heaven,” which is the title of the installation.

The artist who created the installation, Jo Sook-jin, said at the press conference she was inspired by the old belief across the world that, after death, people become stars. The title is from a line in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” which reads, “When he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night.”

A series of photos that show praying hands with one finger dyed red with garden balsam is the result of artist Sohee Cho’s project “Garden Balsam Prayers 304.” The artist said 304 volunteers dyed their fingers with garden balsam. The artist took pictures of their hands in prayer pose to express mourning for the victims and hope for solidarity between the victims’ families and all people in sharing their agony.


BY MOON SO-YOUNG [symoon@joongang.co.kr]



The exhibition runs through June 25. Admission is 4,000 won for adults. The museum is closed on Mondays. It is a 20-minute walk from Exit No. 1 of Choji Station on line No. 4.
For details, visit gmoma.ggcf.kr or call (031) 481-7000.

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