Motherland (Photo Art Magazine, May 2023)

KADU 기획전 « Motherland » It’s not our country.

Photo Art, Monthly Magazine, May 2023 issue – Journalist KANG Seong-Yeob

All of the artists participating in this exhibition are Korean, but Korea is not their country to them. This is a story about overseas adoptees. The work that started out of curiosity about the motherland was a process of trying to find one’s identity, and furthermore, existence itself. Who am I: ‘Where do you come from: They came to Korea with a question that no one can give a clear answer to.

It all started with a small coincidence. An overseas adoptee who was impressed by Park Chan-ho’s photo book Return, which contains traditional Korean beliefs, asked him at an online conference. He asked questions while introducing himself as an adoptee who was adopted overseas from Korea.

“Am I Korean?” It was a question I had never heard before. The artist pondered over the embarrassing question and replied, “You are Korean. Then who is Korean? Your roots and mine are the same. You are Korean no matter what anyone says. It is.” Although he answered the question, it was more of a comfort than an answer. The situation of asking others about his origin and the feelings at the time of not being able to give a clear answer were all strange. That mindset moved the writer.

Why do overseas adoptees search for their parents and why do they wonder about their mother country? Why do you question your own existence? Until now, everyone had been lightly speculating that it might be so. You must be curious about the parents who gave birth to you. You want to know where I was born Inconsiderate speculations like maybe it could be because I was adopted. Seriously, I hadn’t really thought about it from their point of view. In this way, Park Chan-ho met overseas adoptees, especially overseas adoptee artists around the world. I communicated with them by exchanging news through SNS and e-mail. Even though each country, language, and culture is different, ‘I decided that I would be able to deeply understand them through art. What started as one or two people soon led to relationships with adopted artists from all over the world.

So, I met 28 adopted artists working in 10 countries including The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Germany, the USA, Belgium, Sweden, Canada, France and Australia. All of them were adopted overseas from Korea when they were young. Park Chan-ho remembers that time, saying they found me rather than looking for them himself. Just as they had been waiting for this news in their home country. As if it was a promise, they all continued to work on the theme of adoption and tried to find their selves through it. He confirmed his desire to learn about the country he was born in. That’s how we decided to bring together the works of overseas adopted artists from all over the world in Korea, the country of our mother. It was decided to open an exhibition for them.

Overseas artists have sent various works of art to Korea that cover the theme of ‘adoption’ in different genres and media. With the interest and support of many people, <Mother’s Country.

(Motherland) (4.29-5.2 | Maru Art Center’ exhibition is now open. The works they sent in are the journey of life spent in a foreign country as adoptees. The remaining memories of Korea and impressions of their biological parents, albeit faintly, are fused together. It made me guess that they were tying up their empty selves, barely holding on to pieces of memory that seemed likely to disappear at any moment. In the work, the symbols of their motherland that they remember, such as children, Taegeukgi, Hanbok, Saekdong futon, Hangeul, and bibimbap, have their own meaning. I was alive to embrace it.

The meaning of this exhibition is to bring the narrative and lyricism of adoption together with the appreciators to our hearts, not to others. This exhibition is KADU (Korea Adoptees Diaspora Art & Culture), a group created for overseas adopted artists in 2022…

For overseas artists, this exhibition is an opportunity to tell the story of an indelible narrative of birth and the impact that the origin of a country has on a person in their home country. Actually, this exhibition cannot provide an answer to them. The fact that they can be proudly recognized as Koreans through the process of proving and expressing their existence to their home country will be of great significance.                

The exhibition held a pre-opening from April 9th to April 12th at the lobby on the 2nd floor of the National Assembly Members’ Hall of the National Assembly building in Yeouido. conversation. picture. video. He presented more than 80 works of art, including illustrations. 16 of the 28 participating artists visited Korea during the exhibition period. This is because they want to see their work exhibited in their home country. Among the participating artists who visited Korea, we met three Gia Sergovich/USA) Lynn Stransky/USA) kimura byol lemoine/Canada) who presented photo-based works.

Gia Sergovich is a photographer currently based in the United States. In this exhibition, a self-portrait work with the theme of adoption was presented. She explores the gap between the Asian American identity and the self. Deconstructing the family structure and perspective of history and mythology is a process of finding one’s own concept. Through photography, I hope to embrace racism, fetishism, and differences toward others, thereby expressing my own trauma and shame. I hope to alleviate the guilt. A photo of a confidently staring straight ahead wearing a white-toned bodysuit that is lighter than his or her skin tone under Caucasian adoptive parents (p.118) and wearing colored lenses to match the same pupil color between people with different pupils and eyes You can feel the denial of existence and the confused conflict to protect one’s ego through the photographs.

The photo <We Soaked Ourselves in Holy Water> (p.118) revealed his identity as a stranger to the fore. It is a work. In the Catholic religion, holy water symbolizes cleansing. The act of using holy water at the time of baptism means washing away oneself and being born anew. At the same time, the baptismal name is a new name. The writer compared this to his own situation. In a situation where the adoption that could not be chosen, the newly created new name, and the two egos coexist over time, the picture captures the confusion that does not disappear even if you try to erase it. And in the following work, Nude #4 (p.119), the artist finally shoots herself with holy water and wears a masspro, hugging her past self as if comforting her and taking off her bodysuit. Only I can understand myself, and I can see the heart of the artist who has to overcome and endure alone.

Llyn Stransky is a Korean-American artist based in New York. Active under the name ‘Jeong’ after her Korean surname, she explores how changes in identity shape our collective. Her work, Make Unmade Memories, is a work of imagining the memories that were taken away through overseas adoption and those that were not realized. The author commissioned an organization called ‘23 and Me’ in the United States to analyze DNA, and in the process, he happened to know his cousin, and through him he heard the news that his brother Sam was in the United States. He went to find out that his birth mother, whom he thought was dead, was alive with his brother. It is said that the biological mother has not acknowledged the existence of the artist until now.
Llyn Stransky was only able to see a few photos through her brother’s Facebook page, and developed her work while imagining what her life would have been like had she not been adopted to the United States. They cut and paste a picture of themselves next to a picture of their mother taken on the subway (p.120) or paste an ID picture of themselves taken in the same year next to the graduation picture of the school where the two older brothers attended (p.123). She had two older brothers, but one died in a car accident). It shows the situation and feelings of the artist who found his family but couldn’t belong there. Also, a group photo of her brother taken with Asian friends and a group photo of herself taken with Caucasian friends are placed side by side. It reveals the fact that they lived very different lives even though they were brothers.

kimura byol (lemoine) was born of Korean and Japanese parents, was adopted in Belgium, and now settled in Canada. Ze said that he had visited Korea several times and worked on adoption as a theme. There is a portrait photo of adoptees holding their adoption number in front of an institution such as a child welfare center that adoptees must go through (p.123). What is the meaning of the numbers given only to adoptees, not resident registration numbers? looking at zer picture, I thought of them with only a few digit numbers remaining, with all personal information including names erased.
At the same time, the artist puts many symbols on the number ‘100’. Baek, which means ‘White’ (race) in Korean, and ‘Baek’, which means the number 100, are homophones. The size of the work was fixed at 100 cm or 100 mm. The photo of the 100 flower petals the artist accidentally found out that a neighbour ze met was adopted from Korea and received a gift from her (p.122) is in the same sense (p.122) symbolizes the life of the author. The work (p.122), which was printed one after another on 100mm horizontally and vertically with ink on the palm of zer hand, is a work that depicts zer own situation in which memories of zer motherland and family are gradually disappearing.


Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: