Capturing scenes from several major Korean cities—including Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea—Thomas Struth‘s exhibition, Korea 2007-2010, draws attention to the dynamic relationship between humans and technological progress. Highlighting construction sites and production lines, the show is held in the Gallery Hyundai.
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Featuring 15 works from three separate excursions to Korea, the German artist’s stark photos are simultaneously somber yet optimistic for the rapid advancements, juxtaposing the new and old–or seeing one built right on top of the other.
Struth spoke of his intentions at a press conference: “It is not easy to look at a country with an analytic view. When you look from an outsider’s view you can often notice the country’s difficult situations. I tried to capture all kinds of situations in my works. Here, the distribution industry is very active, numerous apartment buildings are under construction, there are beautiful views of the ocean and there is also the unique situation of the divided peninsula. I tried my best to be in closest contact with the energy within the society.”
Under the Kim Jong-il regime, Struth’s North Korean experience was cold. Passersby on the streets stoically avoided eye contact, and the artist’s guide constantly thwarted his efforts to photograph the communist city lest a disrespectful image surface.
Some of the works in Korea 2007-2010 traveled Europe this past summer with Struth’s comprehensive retrospective, Photographs 1978-2010. A few of the Korean photos were also part of a separate exhibition at the Marian Goodman Gallery earlier this year, studying similar themes of social and technological progress across Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
All photos via Gallery Hyundai
Thomas Struth [Marian Goodman Gallery]
Gallery Hyundai [Official site]
Photographer Captures Korea’s Industrial Heart [The Korea Herald]
Tight Control, Uncontrolled Desire in Images of Two Cities [Korea JoongAng Daily]