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Real DMZ Project presentation at Goethe-Institut Washington

Dinh Q. Lê, What Lay Beyond, 2014

Although the Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago, the DMZ remains a very real barrier dividing the Korean Peninsula. Join us for a special presentation of the Real DMZ Project at the Goethe-Institut Washington, Germany's cultural center, in which video art, short films, and readings explore a new dialogue on the subject both internationally and within Korean society, as well as the role of art in resolving conflicts.

Plus an introduction and post discussion with Real DMZ Project art director Sunjung Kim! For more information, visit the Real DMZ Project website

WHEN: Monday, Nov. 17 @ 6:30 pm
WHERE: Goethe-Institut Washington (812 Seventh Street, NW)
HOW: Details at Goethe-Institut Washington. Tickets required, available here ($4.75-$7.75). 
CONTACT/QUESTIONS: (202) 289-1200 | info@washington.goethe.org

From the Goethe-Institut Washington website: 

Real DMZ Project is a contemporary art project based on research conducted on the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) in South Korea and its border area. It started three years ago as a critical artistic response to the border between North and South Korea. The art festival brings together international artists from various disciplines. Real DMZ Project seeks to create a dialogue between Korean and international artists, and ultimately with the citizens whose daily lives are affected by the border. 

Real DMZ Project’s art director, Sunjung Kim, will introduce the Real DMZ Project, presenting a selection of video art works from this year’s festival and answering questions from the audience about the role of art in conflict situations. Sunjung Kim is Curator and Founder of Samuso, a curatorial office based in Seoul, and Artistic Director of the Asian Culture Information Agency in the Asian Culture Complex, Gwangju. She has served as the commissioner of the Korean Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale (2005), and as curator of various contemporary art and media art festivals. 

Program

The De-Mechanized Zone
2014, reading, Author: Ingo Niermann

Ingo Niermann is a German writer, editor of the book series Solution, and co-author (with Rem Koolhaas) of the Vote for the Gwangju Biennale Folly Project in 2013. Niermann visited the border zone between North Korea and South Korea and conducted further research. Referring to the format of the guided DMZ tour, Niermann uses the bus shuttle of the REAL DMZ PROJECT to relay a scenario from his forthcoming book Solution 265–: Drill Nation. In The De-Mechanized Zone, visitors take a tour of the DMZ by closing their eyes and listening to the voice of a guide who recounts Niermann’s scenario for partial Korean reunification.

Tiger 
UK, 2014, 13 min. Director: Mark Lewis 

For Tiger, the problematic history and everyday military reality of the DMZ slowly unfolds with his camera gliding over the landscape and into an underground military bunker as if making a topographical survey. The camera, as such, remains neutral and yet implicitly begs questions as to the significance of the DMZ in the present-day. 

Mark Lewis started working with film in the mid-1990s. His film Black Mirror (2011) was screened at numerous international film festivals including the Venice International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival. Weaving through the classic traditions of film, photography, and painting Lewis’s work casts a critical look at cultural structures based on his interest in the technology of film as a medium and exploration of daily life. 

Madame & Little Boy
Korea, 2009, 27 min., Director: Magnus Bärtås 

In 1978, the South Korean actress Choi Eun-Hee was kidnapped by North Korean agents. Two weeks later her ex-husband, the director Shin Sang-Ok, was also abducted to North Korea. The artist-pair managed to escape, after directing and producing a number of films in North Korea, and eventually gained political asylum in the United States. 

Madame & Little Boy is a video essay where historical lines and the circles of repetition in the life story of Choi Eun-Hee (Madame Choi) are examined. The genealogy of monsters originating with Godzilla, from Pulgasari (the couple's unfinished 1985 Japanese-style monster film based on a Korean legend) to Galgameth (Shin’s remake of Pulgasari in Hollywood), is interpreted as deliberate messages about atomic weapons. As an experiment with situated narration, this video essay takes a standpoint against documentarism and common documentary practice. The story of Madame and Little Boy (the code name of the Hiroshima bomb) is narrated in a studio building next to the Nike Missile Site outside San Francisco. The building becomes a place for viewing and talking back to images: the surrounding American landscape, the missile site (“a petrified monster”), where atomic weapons were kept in secrecy, and clips from Shin Sang-Ok’s production together with footage from North Korea. 

What Lay Beyond 
Vietnam, 2014, 6 min., Director: Dinh Q. Lê 

Lê’s artistic practice explores how our memories are recalled within the context of contemporary life, mostly through the use of film and media. As a continuation of a project which links Vietnam, Korea, and Germany – three countries with a history of division – Lê’s contribution to the Real DMZ Project 2014 explores how South Korean children imagine the political future. These are children who have never actually experienced war, but have grown up under its continual implications. 

Lê’s interest is informed by his own biography of having grown up during the Vietnam War and the unification under the control of the communist northern government: both experiences shaped his rather unadorned vision of the future. For his video installation What Lay Beyond, he interviewed children living in South Korea about their thoughts on war, division, and unification. Creating a historical document, Lê’s video elucidates a commitment to the artistic process as a means of excavating history. 

Wilderness – Within Us – Socialized Nature 
Korea, 2013, 20 min., Director: Yang Ah Ham 

The human, as a social being, developed the roots of civilization through the use of agriculture and domesticated animals, and continues in its efforts to harness the natural world. From urban zoos and parks, to mountain ranges and even the polar regions, nature has been absorbed into all realms of civilization. Our approach to the DMZ—where a highly unique ecological system has come into being—will determine our own perspectives towards future events in this place. 

Wilderness – Within Us - Socialized Nature traces the past, the present and the future of the DMZ, and demonstrates each of these states: first it was a site of residence for those living in the area; then conflict and the Cold War forced the creation of an artificial boundary; and eventually we saw the creation of a totally unprecedented ecology of warfare. Through the fusion of fiction and documentary, this film suggests the idea that the present and the future might overlap, and that the behavior of the present generation functions as a condition for future generations. 

This event is part of the event series The Wall in Our Heads.