[NEWS] Korea’s Demilitarized Zone Hosts Major Exhibition

October 18, 2021

Korea’s Demilitarized Zone Hosts Major Exhibition. Works by over 30 artists including Haegue Yang, Francis Alÿs, and Nam June Paik are now showing in a guard post, two train stations, and a dedicated cultural center. 

Source. 2021 DMZ Art & Peace Platform

Artistic Director, Yeon Shim Chung said The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a fortified border barrier instituted by the Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953, has left the devastated South and North divided for decades since the Korean War (1950-1953). This extensive 150 miles long and 2.5 miles wide border spans the Korean Peninsula, with concertina wire fences on both sides. It is a physical scar left on the land, a place where the brutal memories of war linger but are also redefined. Civilian entry into the DMZ is limited for safety reasons, and the decrease in human activity has naturally preserved the region’s ecosystem. However, the numerous undiscovered landmines in the DMZ still pose a real threat in the seemingly peaceful landscape. This exhibition attempts to construct peace and ecology zones to re-envision Korea’s DMZ, which is currently a symbol of division and war. It also seeks to establish art communities in the DMZ to commemorate the painful memories of the past.


Migratory DMZ Birds on Asymmetric Lens – Kyott Kyott Vessel (Pale Thrush), 2021, Soapstone, 3D printed resin, 161×70×150cm, Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Shinwook KIM 


The 2021 DMZ Art & Peace Platform employs five different venues in and around the DMZ: UniMARU, which is located within the Inter-Korean Transit Office; Dorasan Station and Guard Post in Paju City; Jejin Station in Goseong County; and the National Institute for Unification Education in Seoul. Of these, UniMARU is a special art space newly renovated by leading architect Hyunjun Mihn in spring 2021. Its name is formed from the words unification and platform (maru in Korean), which describe its aim to transform the former Inter-Korean Transit Office building (entry-exit control office) into a platform for unification. Each exhibition site embodies the concepts of unification and peace, ecology and sustainability, connection and solidarity, interaction and expansion. The DMZ Art & Peace Platform rang-ing from the west coast of Paju to the east coast of Goseong travels to the globe, going beyond borders via an online platform.

Elephant Cart, 2001, Video installation, mixed media, Nam June Paik Art Center. photo by Kim San 

Thirty-two internationally acclaimed South Korea and abroad artists are participating in the exhibition 2021 DMZ Art & Peace Platform, highlighting narratives of the DMZ’s past, present, and future, transforming the zone into a new “contact zone” – a borderless peace zone. Participants feature diverse subjects such as ordinary people and their daily lives on the border between South and North; the “deferred memories” of displaced people and the war images, represented by Millennials, Generation Z, and the post-war generation that did not live through the Korean War; invoking the names of endangered species to heal spirits; pondering the coexistence of environment and technology during the pandemic and climate crises. The border is there, acting as a barrier, yet the artistic imagination and desire for peace in the DMZ will always be as borderless as birds, wind, water, and grass. Borderless DMZ.


The exhibition continues until 15 November.






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