Image via Art in America
“Norko Realism” by Travis Jeppesen for Art in America gives an overview of the contemporary art world in North Korea. Jeppesen explains the style, “This is a socialist, yet also ultranationalist, “realism” that belongs strictly to the Korean people north of the 38th parallel, and cannot be understood apart from their ideology-infused quotidian life, which has existed for a relatively brief span of time (since the DPRK’s founding in 1948).” He also explains the expectations and boundaries that established for the art community in the DRPK (Art in America).
“Is Yellow Fever an Expression of Pedophilic Tendencies?” The main question of the article asks if “Yellow Fever, is it a multicultural symbol or a pedophilic fetish?” Overall, I think there needs to be more research to support the arguments in the article but this part stood out to me: “The sexualisation of Asian women and the equivalent desexualisation of Asian men is [also] reflected in the American popular culture […]” (Love Love China).
“Defining Racism in Korea” was sparked by controversy regarding racism and the Ebola outbreak; it gives a brief introduction of the roots of racism in Korea. Racism is a complicated topic in most countries and cultures, “Korean racism, however, must be understood differently from its Western cousin, experts say. It is a complex product of the country’s colonial history, postwar American influence and military presence, rapid economic development as well as patriotism that takes a special pride in its “ethnic homogeneity,” according to professor Kim Hyun-mee from Yonsei University” (Korean Herald).
“Wife’s Memory” is a Korean comic (with English translations). (I found it via The Grand Narrative.) The comic is heartbreaking and heartwarming.
On Friday I shared a collection of links as a quick way to get to know what is going on at the Gwangju Biennale this year.
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Not exactly something to read but very important, North Korean exiles will be speaking at a conference next week. “This is the first time that prominent North Korean exiles will speak publicly in a conference about the functioning of this totalitarian state. Some of them have only recently fled North Korea. All of the speakers held important positions in the regime as high-ranking officials, politicians or party cadres.”
Female cartoonists drawing their bodies. I especially like number 2 by Katie Green and number 8 Lucy Knisley. All of the drawings gave me a sense of camaraderie and mutual understanding.
20 Essential K-Pop Songs according to Pitchfork. K-Pop aficionados, do you agree? Are these essential? My K-Pop favorites like Nobody and Sorry, Sorry are a bit dated.
At the beginning of September, the Leeum and Gwangju Biennale are presenting a forum, “Expanding Experiences in Art.” via e-flux
“Enter Pyongyang” is an observational film of the capital of North Korea created by JT Singh and Rob Whitworth. It’s an interesting watch and does show the capital in a less common light. Though, I can’t help but be distracted by what lays beyond the capital and what isn’t pictured.
Despite not living there anymore, Chicago and the people in it are still close to my heart. In honor of that, check out Zane Davis’s new Tumblr dedicated to a Chicago bridge.
For anyone who is curious, I’m based in San Francisco now.
An image I took this summer looking across to North Korea from Paju
North Korea is mentioned on occasion in this space. Below is yet another collection of links about the country.
David Guttenfelder is the only western photographer allowed to take photos of North Korea. In this short video he discusses that experience.
“I was born a [North Korean] Unicorn.”
An essay by Kim Jong Il’s former cook. He traveled all over the world to satisfy Kim Jong Il’s decadent cravings. In the end, he used one of those trips to escape.
An article about North Koreans in Japan. A friend of mine, Kim Insook, has an ongoing photography project about the subject.
Art Asia Pacific’s succinct article about what it means to be an artist north of the DMZ.
If you’re on the Korean peninsula next September you should check out the DMZ Korean International Documentary Film Festival. September 17-24, 2014 in Paju and Goyang.
North Korea and Choco pies, one of our favorite convenience store desserts when we’re in South Korea.
Apex Art’s exhibition from 2012, A Postcard from Afar: North Korea From a Distance curated by Mark Feary.
By North Korean artist, Kouk Kun Son, as part of the DMZ International Installation Art Exhibition (2013)
PARA SITE in Hong Kong just opened Great Crescent: Art and Agitation in the 1960s: Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Part of the statement about the exhibition reads: “A small essay of comparative art history, this exhibition highlights “anti-art” performative tendencies in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan in the 1960s—a decade of turbulence and transformation worldwide, which was also a critical period in the social and political, as well as cultural and artistic histories of the three neighboring countries.”
The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea is now open! According to e-flux, “MMCA Seoul will approach citizens as a familiar and inviting museum by leading public-friendly programs, and aspires to be a “comprehensive museum integrating the past and future in the present,” a “central museum for Korean art in enhancing global diversity,” and an “open museum inducing cultural development.” The MMCA website is here. For other contemporary art space in the area click here.
This week thinkers in Korea will be thinking about the Busan Biennale upcoming in 2014: “The Busan Biennale, which is set to celebrate its eighth biennial event in 2014, seeks to explore differentiation strategies in an increasingly competitive global biennale ecosystem and reflect on the characteristics of the ecosystem which can benefit the Busan Biennale and the methods of establishing the system.” via e-flux
A few months ago I wrote a post about art around the DMZ. Projects are continually popping up. Most recently, I ran across DMZ International Installation Art Exhibition (see image above). I found the project via the artist Jung S. Kim who I found through this investment advice.
As a compliment to my article, “Supplementary Skins”, my most recent post for Art Radar Asia, “Giant cyborgs and miniature humanoids: male nudes in South Korean art” reviews work by Lee Yongbaek, Choi Xooang, Dongwook Lee, Hyungkoo Lee, and Kim Joon. See an excerpt below.
Korea is the male make-up capital of the world and cosmetic surgery for men is becoming increasingly prevalent. For business or for pleasure, Korean men are willing to augment their bodies through means beyond pumping iron and following a stringent diet. This sea change in attitude towards acceptable masculinity has not escaped national or international critical comment: Sun Jung’s book Korean Masculinities and Transcultural Consumption: Yosama, Rain, Oldboy, K-Pop Idols digs deeper into changing Korean masculinity, as does Stephen J. Epstein and Rachael M. Yoo’s article “Multiple Exposures: Korean Bodies and the Transnational Imagination.”
From Jean H. Lee’s Instagram Feed
There are a couple of photographers I follow on Instagram that feature images of North Korea. One of the photographers, Jean H. Lee, was interviewed back in May. Her Instagram handle is newsjean (David Guttenfelder’s handle dguttenfelder is the other; I recommend following both). When asked about what would surprise the outside world about North Korea she says, “When I show my photos and videos of daily life in North Korea, or share anecdotes about what it’s like to live and work with North Koreans, people are most surprised by how “human” North Koreans seem because the picture we usually get is so orchestrated. But like the rest of us, they laugh, they cry, they joke, they fight. They love to tell jokes, they love to dance, they love to sing.”
On another note, The Real DMZ Project opened July 27, the sixtieth anniversary of the cease-fire. According to the project’s website, “The Real DMZ Project is a contemporary art project based on researches of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) and the border district. It began in 2012 and will be proceeded as a long term project with interdisciplinary researches and practices. This year, it aims to elaborate on geopolitical meanings of the border region of DMZ in Cheorwon through the frames of art, humanity, sociology, and science with ‘borderline’ as the keyword. Moreover, the project will seek to provide a sustainable platform where the studies of the DMZ conducted in diverse fields can be shared.” For more information visit the review on e-flux where I became aware of the project and The Real DMX Project website.
The conference I attended in Macau had film screening along with the panels. They featured two films about North Korea, each representing a different approach to the situation there: Unfortunate Brothers: Korea’s Reunification Dilemma and Memory of Forgotten War. I only viewed the second but after talking to the director of the screenings I would recommend both of the films.
If you’d like to dig deeper into the visual politics of North Korea I recommend looking into Visual Politics and North Korea: Seeing is Believing by David Shim. It will be published by Routledge later this the fall.
On a lighter note, I prefer this to this.
After this post goes live I’ll have just enjoyed a scone and coffee sitting next to Lake Michigan at sunrise with my parents and husband. A much needed pause from this (wonderful) and crazy summer. If you’d like to follow along you can find me on Instagram. Enjoy the last few days of summer.
Image of Young Jean Lee’s Untitled Feminist Show (source)
Article on Art Radar: nudity to challenge state corruption in China, an interview with Kimsooja (who represents South Korea in the Venice Biennale this year), an interview with Afghanistan’s first female street artist, and finally, I was thrilled to see an article on Young Sun Han! Hang grew up outside of Chicago (and has since lived all over the world). I had the pleasure of meeting him last year. Some of his work addresses his North Korean heritage.
Last spring I had the privilege of seeing Young Jean Lee’s Untitled Feminist Show at the MCA in Chicago. The experience was shocking, liberating, energizing, and hands down the most intelligent and provoking work I’ve seen on a stage. I also saw a talk with Lee before the performance and met her briefly afterwards, she was humble, intelligent, and gracious. This week I was thrilled to see a piece about her “We’re Gonna Die” on the New York Times. Here’s a clip about it on NYT (I love that the next clip is about Avenue Q) and Lee’s Viemo stream.
I always enjoy immersive art via DesignBoom.
Have you heard of the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania? The name of the museum doesn’t revel the content of the collection: sex and death. Here’s an article about it from the New Yorker.
Doosan Gallery in Seoul just opened the exhibition The Next Generation. Someone go take a peak for me!
Five films for those who are involved in the arts via Art Radar. I show Un chien Andalou to my students the second day of class!
Hazel Dooney on the gallery system.
Some portraits on DesignBoom: Kim Jong Il framed in pink, colorful x-rays, and lego heads.
A little bit of nepotism, my sister just moved to England and started a new blog to document the experience with her stunning photography and marvelous writing. She used to write here.