Exhibition preview: A Soldier's Tale, Asia House, London, July 8–20 2013
If the 60th anniversary of Ceasefire in the Korean War is notable, there is a particularly British reason why this show, featuring 19 works by 15 artists, is timely: it’s 130 years since the UK and Korea instigated diplomatic relations, already marked by a lunar show at the Korea Cultural Institute this summer.
© Yongho Kim
The aim is to redress some of the perceived lack of attention afforded to veterans of what was a bloody international conflict. And in the context of the current tensions between Korea and the west, 30 photos of the Demilitarised Zone – known as the DMZ – resonate.
One of the veterans, David Kamsler, is the subject of a remodelled opening room by Soonhak Kwon, where memorabilia covers a wall alongside a painting, by Anna Paik, portraying a figure bereft of any remaining family.
Memory and memorials feature heavily: Leenam Lee, Suknam Yoon and Jiho Won recreate waterfalls, carve hundreds of shamanistic wooden figures and a black carpet channelling the lines of 750 coffins. And in an installation of 750 bright red plastic flowers, Jeong Hwa Choi’s sea of chrysanthemums – a funereal flower in the east – are reborn.
At the start of the third section, The Enduring War, Yongbaek Lee’s video projection, Angel-Soldier is a flowery, camouflaged reflection on national army service in South Korea from the country’s representative at the Venice Biennale two years ago.
Another video, The Marines who Didn’t Come Home, is part of a three-channel video screen by Taeeun Kim, made in 1963.
Elsewhere, one of the post-war generation artists, Seungah Paik, paints a large mural of herself striking the meditational poses of Buddha, and Woody Kim places burnt candles on a chandelier to question the meaning of loss and lost causes.
- Open 9am-6pm (closed Sunday). Follow the House on Twitter @asiahouseuk.
© Anna Paik
© Woody Kim
© Tae Eun Kim
© Shan Hur
© Jeong Hwa Choi