Art at nuclear summit
By Noh Hyun-gi
The National Museum of Contemporary Art is holding “Art Project 2012: Communion” at the media center of the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit at COEX, Samseong-dong in southern Seoul through Wednesday. The exhibition invited 10 artists from Korea and Japan to showcase their works exploring the issues of nuclear security and international collaboration for peace.
Kicking off with “salpuri,” or an exorcism performance by Lee Jeong-hwa, the title holder of Important Intangible Cultural Heritage No. 27 on Monday, the show includes 30 video works, installation pieces, photographs and paintings.
Some speak directly on topics of the summit. Ono Tadashi, Japanese photographer, captured the scenery of a dismantled Fukushima in the Tohoku region where the magnitude 9.0 earthquake on March 11, 2011 hit that led to the nuclear catastrophe. His piece “Embankment” sheds light on the power of nature that can cause unforeseeable disasters.
Ultra Factory, a group of Japanese artists, brought their invention to the exhibition. “Vitalfoot” is a red bicycle made with recycled material that can be used to transport aid to the Fukushima area. The six artists wanted to contribute to their aching nation after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant failure. This production serves as a carrier for hope as well.
Local artists are showing works that investigate their divided homeland. Lee Sea-hyun painted a landscape in red, based on his experience in the Army. “Between Red” (2012) recreates the view of North Korea the painter saw through his binoculars. Also on display is “Angel Army,” a video work by Lee Yong-baek. The artist who represented Korea at the 2011 Venice Biennale juxtaposes figures of soldiers and flowers to explore issues of peace. Ham Kyung-ah offers two embroidery works from her eight-piece project “Needling Whisper, Needle Country.” In “I’m Sorry,” a 2 by 1.5-meter creation, Ham expresses the will to fight the fear against nuclear terrorism by portraying soldiers with shields. Her other piece “Some Diorama” depicts worldwide concern over a possible nuclear attack. Ham began her endeavor when she found a propaganda poster a few years ago, and thought about sending messages to North Korea herself with needlework.
Han Sung-pil’s photographs taken near nuclear plants in the south of France are on display as well. “Ground Cloud” (2005) captures the vapors and a cloud of steam coming out of the structures, conveying the artist’s concern on the impact they have on nature. “Everything, though real, felt unreal,” said the photographer. France relies on nuclear energy as the major source of power. These plants produce over 80 percent of the nation’s energy consumption.
The exhibition is open to the representatives attending the summit until today and opens to the general public on March 28.