Installation view: Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, ARTSPECTRUM, Korea, 2016. Photo Byunghun Min / Halo Studio.


Triptych Light Box, 2016. 

Total dimension: 508,4 x 52,8 x 10 cm. Handcrafted white oak boxes, 36 black & white photographs taken in North Korea in 1951 and 2015. Printed on inkjet screen film, inserted between a transparent and a red acrylic sheet, LED lights, electrical cords. 

Apertures |Specters | Rifts engages borders both as ‘apertures’, ‘specters’, and ‘rifts’ by invoking unrealized aspirations for peace while considering the durationality of the division of Korea, and the red cold war filter that continues to permeate perceptions of North Korea.

Placed inside a triptych light box behind a red acrylic sheet are a series of juxtaposed photographs of North Korea. Half were taken by an international women’s delegation in 1951 at the height of the Korean War while the other half were taken by the artist when she went to North Korea and crossed the DMZ into South Korea as part of another international women’s delegation in 2015. At a distance, the light box resembles an abstract border and the photographs inside are not discernible. In order to interact with the images, one has to move into close proximity. Doing so, one becomes enmeshed in the red glow emanating from the light box, which intimates a shifting aperture as one’s eyes have to readjust to the changing lighting conditions.

The work suggests that engaging with the photographs from the two women’s delegations within these shifting viewing situations opens up for other modes of seeing beyond the red cold war filter that permeate images of North Korea. Reading the past and present together, the work advocates for entering into conversation with specters of the past towards an aesthetic of recognition, rather than further cleaving of the rifts produced by the division.


The participants of Women Cross DMZ.

Guston Sondin-Kung.

Realized with support from Leeum Samsung Museum of Art and The Danish Arts Council.