For the opening of the 2013/2014 season the Paris-Beijing Gallery is pleased to welcome New Photography in Korea, a group show devoted to Korea’s recent photographic output.
Starting in the late 20th century, Korea experienced a burst of economic development that transformed the “Land of Serene Mornings” from a mostly rural country to a highly industrialized nation.
The two main events that projected Korea towards democracy and globalization were the pro-democratic movements of 1987 and the 1988 Seoul Olympic games. The sociological and environmental upheaval that followed, along with the oppressive dichotomy that opposes South Korea to its inconvenient feuding brother up North, are the interpretive keys to needed to understanding artistic expression in Korea, especially the development of the photographic medium. Photography was the natural choice for witnessing the rapid changes dislocating the environment and the frenzied development of the urban landscape. Such a versatile technique quickly revealed itself as the privileged tool of a generation of artists yearning to sublimate the alienation and uncertainty that had taken a hold of Korean society. Within a few years, its ability to capture the consequences of the socio-economic evo- lution allowed photography to become the center both of the art market and of purely aesthetic concerns.
The 80’s were marked by the return to Korea of a young generation of photographers who had studied in the west. Through their conceptual approach to photography, which hadn’t been seen before in Korea, artists like Bae Bien-U and Bohnchang Koo, had a deep influence on a new generation of Korean photographers.
From the early 90’s on, museums and galleries started to devote a greater part of their programming to photography. Many large-scale shows like The Horizon of Korean Photography (1991), Modern Korean Perspective (1993), and Flow of Korean Photography (1995), contributed to securing photography’s position as a major art form.
In the new millennium the development of digital photography modified our understanding of the medium, which went from a pure representa- tion of the real to a technique with the ability to forge and manipulate this reality. By offering the opportunity to explore the link between fiction and reality, digital photography expands the frontiers of possibility.
2002 saw the birth of the Museum of Photography in Seoul, the first museum dedicated entirely to Korean Photography. The Daegu Biennial founded in 2006 is another example of the growing role that contemporary photography holds in the nation’s cultural life. Today, Seoul, Busan, and Gwangju are home to an ever-increasing number of museums, art galleries, and cultural events of international renown.
New Photography in Korea is a selection of over a dozen Korean photographers, selected with great regard for their complex vision and their rich identity. It presents the principal currents of contemporary photography, from introspective photography to sociological photography, fash- ion photography, architectural photography as well as the graphic and the scenographic.
Urbanization, globalization, consumerism, identity, culture, memory, family, sexuality, the social fabric, are all themes approached by this generation of photographers born in Korea’s economic miracle and already attaining international recognition.