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Korean photographers in Uncertain States

Two Korean photographers, Jo Seong-hee and Park Ju-young, are currently participating in Uncertain States, a group show at Photo-Space Gallery, 530 Commercial Road, London E1 0HY (Near Limehouse DLR).

Seong-hee Jo: Barbican nightscape
Seong-hee Jo: Barbican nightscape

Jo Seong-hee has been loitering in the City and Canary Wharf taking night time photographs of the cityscape, pasting them together in what initially seems a normal panorama but which infact are three images cleverly assembled into one. They can be appreciated on one level, from a distance, as a simple landscape image, but also because the large scale of the work you are tempted to look at the surface of the photograph up close, peering into the windows of the office buildings to see if you can figure out what is going on inside – reminding you of Saturday Night, Kim In-sook’s work recently on sale at Christie’s.

Detail from Barbican nightscape - Seong-hee Jo
Detail from Barbican nightscape - Seong-hee Jo

Jo Seong-hee’s statement follows:

Seong-hee Jo
Invisible Cities
Lambda prints, float-mounted and frames (150 x 40 cm)

This project is placed in the context of urban night photography. In the early 1900s Alfred Stieglitz pioneered an aesthetic approach to urban photography when he showed that cityscapes could have an imaginative value. Today, new types of media, such as video, pose a challenge to architectural photography. My work aims to show that photography competes successfully with these media, especially if efforts are made to capture the life that surrounds such a building.

This project is an experiment to produce an imaginary “panorama” of high-rise buildings and other urban features seen by night, using the technique of collage. The pictures each consist of three images tightly juxtaposed in one frame. My idea of a panoramic impression furnished by triple images referenced McLuhan’s philosophy regarding the extension of vision. By joining images, you transcend the need to read them sequentially. Hilliard and Scott McFarland also “compressed” time into single images. The result also carries an element of voyeurism.

Juyoung Park - Salome
Juyoung Park - Salome
Juyoung Park - Loaves and fishes
Juyoung Park - Loaves and fishes

Like Jo Seong-hee’s work, Park Ju-young‘s biblical images, set against a black background, inspire quiet contemplation. Her images are overtly religious, but also contain elements of humour as the bible stories are brought up to date. In the intimate breaking of bread, which is a version of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, there’s a bowl of french fries in the middle of the table, while in the Garden of Eden the apple which gives knowledge of good and evil is a wifi-enabled Macbook. The Salome image represents Park’s – or indeed any Christian’s – inner struggle between the desires for things of the flesh (represented by the party-loving Salome in the red dress) and the things of the spirit (represented by John the Baptist). Thanks to the powers of digital manipulation, it is Park’s own head on the plate, and Park herself who plays the dancing Salome. Park Ju-young’s statement follows:

Ju-young Park
Stepping into the mirror
Lambda prints float-mounted and framed (84 x 64cm)

The ultimate inspiration for my work was a personal drive to share my faith with others. I wanted to recreate contemporary biblical images finding their inner meaning. Even though I chose my project as an expression of my belief, I wished to stretch the theme beyond a personal confession of faith, conveying the contemporary meaning of the stories and enabling their reading in a universal context.

As I progressed, I realised my work was concerned with the telling of my own personal story so I decided to convey the meaning through a series of multiple self-portraits. I would say my aim in this project is to communicate my sentiments with other people, or to transform my internal monologue into a dialogue, as it were.

Uncertain States continues until 28 November at Photo-Space Gallery, 530 Commercial Road, London E1 0HY (Near Limehouse DLR). Opening hours Wednesday: Saturday 11am – 6pm. Other photographers exhibiting are David George | Ulka Karandikar | Alex Sandwell Kliszynski | Spencer Rowell | Fiona Yaron-Field. The exhibition is part of Photomonth, the East London photography festival taking place in over 85 galleries and spaces in East London with more than 150 exhibitions and events during October and November.


(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

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