New Photography in Korea II
Such an ambitious title does not reflect an attempt at exhaustiveness but more of a wish to present to the public a subjective, yet hopefully coherent look at the photography that has come out of Korea over the past few years.
When we say Korea, we should really be saying South Korea, the small discreet country in between the two Asian giants of China and Japan, who most often appears in the media only to contextualise the conflict with its awkward brother, North Korea.
And yet since the 1980s we have been witness to lightning growth in “The Land of the Morning Calm”. The path that South Korea has taken since the devastating Korean War (1950-53) has, in only a few decades, transformed it from being a Third World country into a fully industrialised nation. One only need be there to appreciate its economic as well as cultural vitality, its perpetually changing urban landscapes, and its incredibly dynamic art scene led most notably by its cinema and museums, festivals, contemporary art fairs and other biennials of international scope. Not a day goes by without a new gallery opening in Seoul...
And photography? It too is booming, and is at once abundant and vibrant... What better choice of medium to highlight such social upheaval and express uncertainties as resulting sociological transformations? It is thus quite natural that the young artistic guard, born at the end of the seventies, has largely adopted the photographic medium to document the richness, identity and complexity of their widely neglected country.
For New Photography in Korea, we have selected a dozen young photographers that live in Korea today and who we believe represent the principal currents in contemporary Korean photography.
Introspective and sociological photography, fashion and architectural photography, conceptual or even staged photography... Urbanisation, globalisation, consumption, identity, culture, memory, family, sexuality, the fabric of society... A whole host of themes are addressed by this generation of artists born out of the Korean miracle, who are now on the cusp of international recognition.