A Soldier’s Tale at Asia House(Eng)
Presented by ISKAI Contemporary Art
Exhibition Dates: 8 July – 20 July 2013
< A Soldier’s Tale> is an exhibition inspired by various tales told by British soldiers – real and tragic yet dramatically inspiring. It is not a manifesto of political views or ideological endorsements but a journey of courage, brotherhood, despair and human endurance.
Everyday we are surrounded by headlines of conflicts around the world. However, the Korean War – often called ‘The Forgotten War’ – represented one of the bloodiest episodes in 20th century military history. Troops from over 20 nations fought bitterly for 3 years, which – after 4 million civilian and military casualties – ultimately ended in a stalemate.
It marked an important corner stone in world history; the first cold war conflict and one that is still, technically, going on. Yet its veterans – Korean, British or international – have quietly faded into oblivion.
2013 saw a new – and a hitherto relatively unknown – young leader of belligerent North Korea breaking a 60 year old truce and triggering “the most serious crisis” since the Korean War. The exhibition takes place in the month commemorating the 60th anniversary of the ceasefire. 60 years in oriental culture marks the full cycle of life and 2013 also coincides with the 130th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the UK and Korea.
It is this extraordinary incident which this exhibition chose to focus on to reflect on in a year when the Korean War comes to a full cycle. It tries to remember not only the forgotten but also convey the untold such as the betrayal by your ‘own’ and weeping for ‘the others.’
<A Soldier’s Tale> consists of 19 works by 14 artists, together with 30 photographs of the DMZ, both past and present by 7 photographers. The artworks respond in diverse ways and encourage visitors to reflect upon the untold pain, optimism and perseverance. The exhibition however aims to bring out raw perspectives by bringing together the unnatural; foreign subjects processed through local eyes and minds, the old (war veterans) and the young (post-war generation artists), and maybe the ‘forgotten’ versus the ‘forgetting.’
The exhibition planning started from collecting stories around the Gloucestershire Battalion of the legendary ‘Battle of Imjin’. The battle took place 22-25 April 1951 where 750 British Glosters held back against an onslaught of 7,000 Chinese soldiers for three days. The Gloucestershire Battalion held its ground and fought until it’s last men; secured three days without any ammunition. The artists further researched and met the veterans and their new works will be shown for the first time at this exhibition.
About the Art Works
The exhibition is in three parts.
The first part, “Soldier’s Room” is a reconstructed room of one of the British Korean War veterans called David Kamsler OBE by Soonhak Kwon. Noting his wall filled with medals and memorabilia relating to the war will disappear with him whose fragile health is apparent, the room was documented and reconstructed. Anna Paik McCawley also paints a portrait of David, whose portrait will be remembered by some of us as he has no family left.
The story of the Gloucestershire Regiment’s legendary fight inspired three artists in the room “Imjin River”. While Leenam Lee’s waterfall represents the water still running through a divided land, the story continues: Suknam Yoon’s 750 totem-like wooden figurines are carved and painted. The action of carving a wooden totem is indeed very Korean however the ritual aspect of Yoon’s work is different to Jiho Won’s sculpture, incised black carpet, when placed on a stone, looks like monumental lines of 750 coffins seen from above. Jeonghwa Choi recreates an installation work, consisting of 750 bright red plastic flowers that invite viewers to view the red chrysanthemums. The White chrysanthemum represents funeral flowers in the East but Choi’s are of bright red, invoking poppies or rebirth.
The third part “the war is still going on” is represented by a video projection by Yongbaek Lee, who represented Korea at the Venice Biennale 2011, with an “Angel Soldier” whose body is camouflaged in flowers. Korean men still bear the obligatory national army service and camouflaged uniforms are representative of today’s Korea. This is juxtaposed by the slide show of 30 photographs consisting of past and present images of the DMZ.
The exhibition revisits the symbolic places and incidents of the division with Taeeun Kim’s “Triple War”, Wil Bolton’s “Baeknyeong Island” which is South Korea’s northernmost island that lies just south of the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border with North Korea.
The exhibition A Soldiers Tale extends the exchanges and close ties that South Korea and the UK have maintained for the last 130 years since diplomatic relations began. Hur Shan fuses the idea of the friendship and memory in his installation. Memory can or cannot last longer than the friendship, and so the exhibition was prepared to protect those memories that could fade away soon as most of the British veterans of the Korean War are now in their late 80s and early 90s. Their fragility and their stories are retold by Locco.
Wil_BOLTON_Baekryungdo_2012_Video/Sound 5min ©Wil Bolton
Jeong Hwa CHOI
Winter Garden_2008 ©Jeong Hwa CHOI
Fogotten_2010_Concrete, timber vase_450x 120 x45 ©Shan HUR
Tae Eun KIM
Triple War(2013), The Marines Who Didn’t Come Home(1963), Wolmi Island(1983)_2013
NTSC HD Video_7’52″ ©Tae Eun KIM
Illusiomination (Illusion+Illumination)_2013 ©Woody KIM
2011_500 x 295 ©Yongho KIM
A work for A Soldier’s Tale(detail)_2013_variable dimensions ©Soonhak KWON
Park Yeon Waterfall2011_LED TV 7min 55sec ©Leenam LEE
Yet to be titled No.001_2013_Projection and Mixed Media_Dimension variable ©Locco
Baltzell_2012_Oil on linen_46 x 30 ©Anna PAIK
Autolandscape_2012-2013_Pigment, rabbit skin and charcoal on calico_400x180cm_4 panel set ©Seungah PAIK
Union Jack_2012_Wood, cable ties, scaffolding net_140x240x70 ©Jiho WON
Seeding of light – 999_1997_Acrylic on wood_3x23(each) all 999piece_installation view
※ DMZ Photographs
Nyungman Kim 1992 Werner Bischof , 1952
Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP
Opening Monday – Saturday 10.00- 18.00
PREVIEW Monday 8th July 19.00 – 21.00
DINNER For the British Korean War veterans is hosted by The Rt. Hon Choung Byoung-Gug M.P Republic of Korea
Korean Culture and Information Service, Korea Tourism Organisation, Gyeonggi Tourism Organisation, Incheon Foundation For Arts& Culture
Samsung Electronics, Auditorium and Asiana Airlines