Featuring performance and video artist Soni Kum and her collaborators Hiroki Yamamoto and Kazuya Takagawa, this symposium will address themes of borders, visibility, and invisibility in relation to the Johnson Museum’s current exhibition Morning Dew: The Stigma of Being “Brainwashed,” Kum’s inaugural installation in the United States.
The artists’ video works, based on interviews with Zainichi Koreans who were repatriated to North Korea but later defected, bring visibility to the entangled borders they have crossed and recrossed, and their hidden lives in Japan today. Having returned to Japan, they are now compelled to hide the fact that they left, or fled from, North Korea, threatened with discrimination and other troubling consequences. Facing these fears of her interviewees, Kum’s installation weaves together archival images, text, and silences to artistically evoke their hidden stories. In their video work, Yamamoto and Takagawa delve into the dream of one “ex-returnee.” The first part of the symposium will feature the artists discussing their own work in conversation with symposium moderator Brett de Bary.
In the second part, panelists Iftikhar Dadi (Cornell), Rebecca Jennison (Seika University, Kyoto), Soyi Kim (LB Korean Studies Research Scholar, Cornell) and discussant Naoki Sakai (Cornell) will consider the way modern borders, underlain by layered histories of violence, forcefully produce both the visibility, but also the invisibility, of social groups. How have contemporary artists engaged this dialectic of visibility and invisibility in their own work? Drawing on a broad and varied range of materials, how do such “material” media evoke silence and invisibility?
Cosponsored by the POLA Art Foundation, Japan; the East Asia Program and the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies; Cornell Migrations Initiative; and the Cornell Council for the Arts.