While in Gwangju on the weekend of May 18, members of the media team were lucky to meet artist Swan Song. Song shared her artistic political project with the team, which proved to be extremely interesting. The project was simple, the symbolism profound. Throughout different times during the May 18 weekend in Gwangju, a weekend dedicated to commemorating the tragic and brutal uprising that happened there in 1980 against the military government, Song asked people at various commemorative events, such as the May 18 official remembrance ceremony and the May 18 festival, to pose with an umbrella featuring the faces of Pak Geun-Hye, the country’s president, and Barack Obama. Beginning in May, 1980, the uprising was a catalyst for much of the present anti-American sentiment present in Korea, when people began connecting the role of the United States to the bloody massacre of Gwangju citizens and questioning the purpose of United States presence in the country. Thus the symbolism of this project is particularly strong, questioning current political and economic alliances within the context of the Gwangju Uprising and the conditions of anti-Americanism tied to this time.
About her project, Swan has said:
“I have met a variety of people. Some people just pass me by, others have a special meaning to me. I take a photo of acquaintances with a painted umbrella. They are holding the umbrella with faces on the outside, looking at me. I gaze at you but I’m not sure who you are. I can’t guess your age, race, feeling or status. Do you show us your own face in a world where the law of the jungle prevails? No, before that, have you become conscious of your innate ego? I’m going to go through the slow hard process of throwing my umbrella away.”
To see the full project, click here
Thank you to Ms. Song for sharing her work with the ISC.