Driveling Mouth

Single-channel video with sound still, 13:40 min; tent, 1.5 × 1.5 × 2 m. Courtesy the artist

Driveling Mouth

Artist: Koh Seung Wook

Driveling Mouth, 2008
Tent, 4 7/8 × 4 7/8 × 6 1/2 ft / 1.5 × 1.5 × 2 m; single-channel video with sound, 13:40 min
Courtesy the artist

In this video, KOH Seung Wook addresses the issue of a nation-state’s identity and its intrinsic conflict, discord and fraction. He reveals the nation-state’s desire to project a certain collective narrative onto forming and representing its identity and an individual’s attempts to escape from its grip. As a way to build an individual identity, one seeks for, restores and recomposes one’s memories of the past, which entails a moment of collision and collapse among the restored memories.

This video has two interrelated parts: “the memory encountered” and “the memory recurring.” In “the memory encountered,” KOH collects images of Korean women from personal homepages of the US veterans who served in Dongducheon during the 60s and 70s. These so-called “western princesses” have been disdained and forgotten by Koreans, while once praised as patriots for earning American dollars and serving the interest of international relations.

KOH recomposes the collected images, then blurred most of the image, leaving only a certain selected spot highlighted. In addition, full blank or black scenes are intermittently inserted in the flow of images, creating an effect of optical resonance of previous images.

Due to the issues related to national security, historical documentation of Dongducheon is extremely rare. Therefore, one of the consistent efforts of grassroots NGOs and activists is to restore existent documents witnessing any part of the local history. In the “the memory recurring” part, KOH does a performance of reading such documents at the Sangpae-dong Public Cemetery and a camera zooms in on his mouth only. As the recited sentences are overlapped, the mouth begins to dribble, which would make it impossible in the end to understand the spoken words.

-Heejin Kim, Insa Art Space

This video is part of Insa Art Space’s presentation “Dongducheon: A Walk to Remember, A Walk to Envision,” May 9-July 6, 2008, Museum as Hub, New Museum.