Border Views From Korea

21. 5. — 18. 9. 2022



North and South Korea have been divided for 77 years and separated for 69 years by a strip four kilome­ters wide and 150 miles long, the Demili­ta­rized Zone (DMZ). It is not only one of the best-secured borders in the world, but also uniquely marks an ideolo­gical, cultural and, not least of all, psycho­lo­gical division between the two Korean nations. Whereas the terri­to­rial border is widely visible, the mental fissures are almost invisible: hard to describe, but palpable.

North Korea, the DMZ, and the prospect of a possible common future: Based on these three thematic complexes, approx. 35 artworks by both Korean and non-Korean artists from the fields of painting, sculpture, photo­graphy, and video are presented, which deal with the politi­cally and cultu­rally complex situation and offer insights into life experi­ences with visible and invisible borders. Photo­graphs taken in North Korea reveal the psycho­lo­gical distance, as well as almost surreal everyday scenes. Omnipre­sent surveil­lance and fantasies about the southern brother state play a role in the artworks, as do mass events to pay homage to the political leadership.

The DMZ itself is examined in various artworks for its divisive and even frigh­tening character. On the one hand,it is an absolute prohi­bi­tive zone; and on the other, it is a tourist attrac­tion and a retreat for nature. Stereo­types are questioned, as are separa­tions and re-encoun­ters. In the third chapter of the exhibi­tion, the artistic positions revolve around the prospect of peaceful reuni­fi­ca­tion of North and South Korea.

The research-based REAL DMZ PROJECT was initiated in South Korea in 2011 to use the means of contem­porary art to negotiate the various issues of borders and divisions and to develop scenarios for a possible shared future. After venues in London, Paris and Sydney, the REAL DMZ PROJECT Negotia­ting Borders will be on view under the title Check­point. Border Views From Korea at the Kunst­mu­seum Wolfsburg. Shortly after the thirtieth anniver­sary of the peaceful German reuni­fi­ca­tion and in geogra­phical proximity to the former inner-German border, the exhibi­tion seems parti­cu­larly appro­priate both tempo­rally and topogra­phi­cally in Wolfsburg.

The exhibi­tion and the accom­panying publi­ca­tion are supported by the culture depart­ment of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Berlin, the Korean Cultural Center as well as the Korean Founda­tion for Inter­na­tional Cultural Exchange (KOFICE) as part of the Traveling Korea Arts Project. The show is being curated and adapted for Wolfsburg by KIM Sun Jung, Seoul. Curato­rial Assis­tance: Sooyoung Choi, Ji Yeon Lee, Ah Rho and Dino Steinhof.

Parti­ci­pa­ting artists:

YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES, Chan Sook Choi, Daejin Choi, Kyungah Ham, Sojung Jun, Jane Jin Kaisen, Lee Bul, Jeewi Lee, Woosung Lee, Mischa Leinkauf, Minouk Lim, Aernout Mik, Min Joung-Ki, NOH Suntag, Heinkuhn OH, Park Chan-kyong, Tobias Rehberger, Adrián Villar Rojas, Haegue Yang. 

Sunjung Kim

Curato­rial Assistants:
Sooyoung Choi, Ji Yeon Lee, Ah Rho and Dino Steinhof