38° of Separation, Korea : Time and Generation

Madlab responds to Asia Triennial Manchester 2011 by addressing the cultures of the two Koreas, North and South. Since Korea was formally divided in 1948 down the 38th parallel line, the Northern and Southern parts of the peninsula have followed very dissimilar temporal and spatial paths. The division of the nation has created subsequent generations of Koreans who are, in many ways, poles apart, both physically and ideologically.

MadLab‘s exhibition, 38° of Separation: Korea, Time and Generation, presents cultural reflections and experiences of DPRK through the eyes of North Korean, South Korean and Western artists and illustrators presenting the practical and cultural aftermath of a divided nation, whose populations, separated since WWII, have spent their everyday lives in very different ways.

HyoJung Seo‘s commissioned installation piece, ‘Double Meaning: Two Koreas by Words & Image,’ explores how people perceive processes of the metamorphosis of time and space as it reacts to bodily movement. Using interactive digital installations, she represents her work either in a strong audio-visual abstract sense or through a small everyday object that disentangles our perceptions about the interaction between an artwork and its audience. The space itself is a text of artwork full of sound, light and images. Visitors are not ‘in front of’ an artwork, but they are ‘in’ the artwork as performers contributing to it. Here, she encourages the visitors to play a matching game using flash cards of simple words which demonstrate the similarities and differences between North Korean and South Korean attitudes to everyday concepts and objects.

Kang Chun Hyok is one of the first North Korean refugees to visually document his experiences of the closed country. His illustrations entitled ‘Stories only we have experienced,’ address his difficult escape from North Korea in 1998 into China, his entry into South Korea in 2001 and his subsequent émigré experiences as a North Korean living in South Korea.

Guy Delisle is renowned for his capacity to produce humourous yet politically aware cartoons which document his international travel adventures. After working temporarily on an animation project in North Korea, he relayed his offbeat everyday experiences of the capital – Pyongyang – in the form of a graphic novel of the same name. Here is the chance to see some of  the original storyboards from ‘Pyongyang : A Journey in North Korea’.

Co-curated by Hwa Young, director of Madlab and Dr Beccy Kennedy, lecturer at MMU and freelance writer.

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