IM Heung-soon: Reincarnation

Museum of Modern Art
IM Heung-soon’s work explores the ongoing process of modernization and globalization in Korea as seen through the eyes of older generations whose lives have spanned these momentous shifts. Where the artist’s prior work has concentrated on male roles in Korean society, Reincarnation (2015) takes as its starting point a little known history of the Korean diaspora that includes a group of women who emigrated to Iran after the Vietnam War. These women worked as dancers in the ad-hoc entertainer community – referred to as the “foxhole circuit” – that performed for Korean troops during the Vietnam War, before decamping for Tehran in search of the prosperity and sophistication the city represented in the 1970s.
Arriving at this history more obliquely, Reincarnation examines a group of Vietnamese women and a group of Iranian women, who have each suffered from different forms of trauma in relation to the Vietnam War or the Iran-Iraq War, respectively. Through the two distinct channels that comprise the video, IM explores the memories and identities of these women who were victims of war, or who lost family members in its wake. Reincarnation forms another chapter in the artist’s larger project of addressing the painfully entrenched psychic and emotional scars left behind by processes of growth, and the necessary internal suppression of trauma that occurs in the aftermath of warfare.
May 3, 2015
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