Friday, April 03, 2009

Korean Photographs at Changwon's Art Museum

My colleague Bae Sang Im, graciously took me to a photography exhibit showing at Changwon's art museum.

The photo exhibit currently on display until June is quite a sprawling collection of mostly black and white photographs by Korean photographers depicting a wide variety of themes and subjects. While the whole assemblage seemed somewhat lacking in direction, I found many of the photographs themselves very fascinating, especially with my interest in history and Korean culture. Despite some shortcomings, I found many wonderful photographs and it seems Korea is blessed with a great many talented photographers, artists, and photo-journalists This one particular photograph of a war orphan in 1950 proved particularly haunting.

I was also quite taken aback by photographs taken of the Changwon area and Gyeongsangnamdo Province. It seems not 30 years ago Changwon was little more than a small farming town with hardly a trace of concrete and steel. Pictures in the exhibit showed no trace of the endless towering rows of 30 floor apartments laid out in perfectly ordered rows between parks and commercial zones teeming with traffic and shoppers. Endless rice fields at the end of long dirt roads preceded the expansive, ambitious grid of industrial complexes making everything from semi-conductors and commercial marine engines to automobiles and cell phones for consumer markets around the globe.

Bae Sang Im was also kind enough to treat me out to dinner at a restaurant specializing in dubu (tofu as you may know it). I've never had it flavored with spinach before. And its actually a lot more delicious than it sounds!

Photo note: This brochure scan of the 1950 original doesn't do the photograph justice. The haunting look in his eyes in the real photograph remined me of that Afghani girl on the cover of National Geographic. I've never seen a black an white shot with such a variety of striking textures either. You can't see it in the scan so much, but his skin is dry and cracked, with skin and tattered clothing contrasting sharply with a smooth, grimy, almost oily look to most of the fabric. This was the best shot in the whole exhibit. I intend to come up with the name of the photographer ASAP. Mrs. Bae is too kind, and scanned this photo from a brochure and I won't have a chance to see her again until Wednesday.

1 comment:

korean war baby said...

In the modern 21st Century many of Korea's under 50's crowd have no memories of the 6/25 war which the west calls the Korean War. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the fateful day in June 25 when the NORTH attacked the South.
Thanks for providing another reminder of where we were as a nation and those shattered years of recovery. I pray that after the photo was taken, the photographer and others took him to an orphanage and he was able to find a loving home. For some rescue, even into a Bi-Racial/cultural family was certainly better.