Colonial Unheimlich: Film Screening and Conversation with Park Chan-kyong

When 6 May 2016
6:00PM - 8:00PM
Where Stony Brook University—Manhattan
387 Park Avenue South (Entrance at 27th Street) 3rd floor
New York, NY 10016
United States

Park Chan-kyong (Seoul, 1965) is an artist, writer, and filmmaker known for his conceptual, research-based investigation of South Korea’s sociopolitical history. Park is one of the few artists today whose fascination with North Korea and the Korean division has remained consistent. But his interest in North Korea is driven less by a blind exoticization of the isolated regime than an epistemological and philosophical inquiry into world history that, for post-colonial nations like the two Koreas, is never a rational, linear progression, but rather often manifests as lurid refractions of unprocessed emotions. The collective desire to restore a single Korean nation expressed in the term “re-unification,” for example, is as nostalgic as it is phantasmagoric, as suggested in Park’s multi-media project with photographs, found images, and texts (Power Passage, 2004-7) and videos (Flying, 2005; Black Out, 2009). Park’s more recent investigation of “tradition” as an element neglected and repressed in the South Korean journey to compressed, breakneck-speed modernization—especially the indigenous belief of shamanism—begins with Sindoan (2009), a documentary film on the history of non-conventional religious practices that once flourished in the Mountain of Gyeryong. A short fiction film about an unjustly killed man summoned by a shaman, Night Fishing (2011; co-directed with Park Chan-wook), bends our perspective and the film’s temporality in an unexpected, ghostly way. Ghosts, as recently noted by Park, are like Walter Benjamin’s idea of an angel of history, caught between the past and the future. But ghosts are always around us, and their presence is obliquely felt in the body of the beholder or through the shaman. At the same time, a post-colonial subject surreptitiously confronting fragments of tradition would inevitably feel uneasiness, which Park calls “colonial unheimlich,” as if one had just encountered something strange, uncanny. Home is never homely for those who are making a homecoming.

A screening of excerpts from Park Chan-kyong’s films (Sindoan, 2009; Anyang Paradise, 2010; Night Fishing, 2011) is followed by a conversation between the artist and Sohl Lee, Assistant Professor in Modern and Contemporary East Asian Art History, Department of Art, Stony Brook University. A post-lecture wine and cheese reception is hosted by Tina Kim Gallery.

Photo courtesy of the organiser/s