SECURITY is of utmost importance at the heavily fortified 250km long Demilitarised Zone along the 38th parallel that divides the Korean Peninsula into South and North Korea. And though Cheorwon Peace Observatory boasts a panoramic view of North Korea, well into the propaganda village close to the border, tourists are often prohibited from taking photos for security reasons.
On the third floor of the observatory, however, visitors can find a photo by Suntag Noh, a photographer participating in the ongoing Real DMZ Project 2012, right in front of the warning post that says no photo shoots allowed.
Noh's photo, part of a photography collection titled "To Survive vs Once Arrived", shows a South Korean soldier gazing at the border of the two Koreas and the warning post.
"Is it illegal if I took a photo of a warning sign that says no photo shoots allowed?" Noh said during a press tour of the exhibition last week.
Noh's ironic take on the warning sign adds humor to the somewhat rigid atmosphere of the building. The soldier in the picture might be like a visitor himself, gazing at the South-North borderline.
"Through my picture, I wanted to capture peoples desire through the act of gazing," Noh said.
Noh defined his photo works as an intervention of the touring experience. Like him, the 11 participating artists of Real DMZ Project 2012 show site-specific art works that interact with five tour sites of the Cheorwon Security Tour.
Woljeong-ri Station, an abandoned train station where a train used to run between South and North Korea, has been turned into an art exhibition space for works by Sylbee Kim, Simon Morley and Suntag Noh.
North Koreans dug the Second Underground Tunnel to be used for infiltrating South Korea in a surprise attack, but was discovered by a South Korean soldier in the 1970s. It is 3,500 metres long and two metres tall, big enough for an average man to walk through. Some 1,100 metres of the tunnel is dug into South Korean land and visitors are allowed to walk only 500 metres north. After walking 500 metres of the narrow, bumpy tunnel, visitors find a dismantled yet brightly lit chandelier that shines on a mirror panel.
Dirk Fleischmann, art professor of Cheongju University presented "Mycheongjuchandelierchohab-Chandelier 363-931" with Shin Hyo-chul, his masters program student.
"After walking in fear and anxiety that the tunnel induces, the chandelier will confuse the audience with its glamour," said Fleischmann. "I do not mean to compete with (the experience of walking through) the tunnel, though."
The insertions of various art pieces in DMZ function both as a reminder and a distraction of the tour experience.
"The chandelier is meant to provide a space and time for a little rest after all the walking," Shin explained.
Other works presented include Lyang Kim's "My Saintly Shelter" in front of the Labor Party Building, Jooyoung Lee's Waiting Together 10 li from DMZ" at the Monorail Station site, and Nicolas Pelzer's "Dislocated Cinema" at the Cheorwon Peace Observatory.The Korea Herald/ANN
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
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