Sometimes it takes one to know one, and with the arts, we can sometimes miss a message or direction unless we have a trained eye. This was taken to the extreme in Korea, when fellow artist Lee Wan discovered a package containing 1,400 photographs of artistic and historical relevance, documenting Korean culture over a period of many years.
Anonymous photographer named Mr. K. has captured moments from the political climate as well as personal touches and situations which simply enrich the understanding of this Eastern culture. Socio-political archives are rare in such numbers and quality, and the manner in which they were discovered adds another tantalising layer of adventure to the collection.
The Korean Pavilion at the Venice Biennale will be host to the fabulous photography from the 13th of May until the 26th of November. Opening the photo album for the world to see in such a public gathering is perhaps exactly what was intended for this superb historical resource.
The Korean culture has recently turned to photography in a big way, choosing the media to represent many aspects of society within the art scene. According to Photography Professor Hoon Jung from Keimyung University, students from other paths and doctrines are adding the camera to their artistic arsenal.
As Zoe Chun of Kukje Gallery in Seoul says, “many artists who use photography as a medium actually use a variety of tools” (ArtNews) which leads the perception of photography to hang somewhere between the newspaper and birdwatchers. The fact that it is a much more comprehensive art form which is used within larger exhibits perhaps leads the subject to less notoriety than other more well known media.
Korean photography is slowly diffusing into the main world art scene, with New York recently showing a few, as well as a museum in Switzerland. The Korean art scene perhaps is a little slow on the uptake and as international interest brews slowly, the nation itself is still a new comer when it comes to exhibiting the material. With a new culture being born from the ashes of the old, things like art perhaps are not in the front of people's minds.
With tensions from the North side of the border continually affecting the way people live their lives,and with the cultural reflections of these tensions manifesting in all aspects of life, the South Korean view of the world is unique and worth exploring.
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