Preparing for the exhibition, Working Holiday
Kyongju Park Solo Exhibition 'Working Holiday'
@ Insa Art Space
The works that are displayed here are photographs and videos that I worked on from 1999 to 2001.
First, regarding my photographs here, 'migrant workers' was not the original theme of my project when I first started the 'Applicants.'
At the beginning, I just wanted to photograph migrant workers as a way to resist against the discrimination that I witnessed in Berlin.
I decided the Immigration Bureau in Berlin as a place to shoot my photographs. The Immigration Bureau is the place where every single foreigner living in Berlin has to visit in order to attain residence permissions. Foreigners experience insults and angers at this place and the memories at the place are usually strong enough to last as a big portion of their recollection in Berlin. Visiting the place gives us clear answers to such questions as 'who we are' and 'where we came from.'
I visited the Immigration Bureau everyday and took pictures of migrant workers who visited there. I rather asked them to pose in front of the lens than taking pictures in natural settings. Posing means that the photographed watch through the lens an unknown watcher. They already knew where the pictures would be displayed.
They dressed them up clean and nice for the day of interviews at the Bureau office. Probably they spent many hours in the morning in front of mirrors not to be ignored. And they might also have practiced again and again this morning the answers which they prepared with the help of the German dictionary, just like preparing for a sacred religious ceremony. My imagination of their probable procedures gave me a certain kind of movement that I might get from something sacred.
After finishing 'Applicants,' I wanted to film Germany-residing Koreans. Since 1960, many Korean migrant workers have been living in Germany.
Most of them work as nurses or miners, jobs which Germans do not want to have.
Even though Germany is called multi race, multi culture country, and finally Multi Culti, immigrants and migrant works still get a cold shoulder there. As a result, the same ethnic members gather together and Koreans are one of them.
I worked as a secretary of the Korean Association in Germany to get information and to contact Koreans. The pictures of Koreans displayed here were taken during a farewell party which the Korean Association held for me on December 2000. It was also the end of the year party and I took pictures of them at a small studio that I made at a corner of the party place.
When I visited Korea for a few days in 2000, a taxi driver in Korea told me that he does not go to factory areas where many migrant workers live. At the moment I got a different feeling, something different from the rage that I had in Berlin. It was a shameful moment which didn't leave me for a couple of days.
I had considered myself as one of the victims until I met the taxi driver. Since then I realized that I could be one of the assailants. The shameful moment made me to decide to photograph migrant workers in Korea.
Migrant workers on my pictures are taking poses for a camera. 'Through the intentional posing,' I wanted to put an intentional emphasis on their existence. They show their existence in front of cameras. They are not just framed by chance but telling 'I am here.'
And also they posed for cameras in their daily life settings, not in a well decorated studios. I tried to communicate with them in their daily life atmospheres.
The exhibition of my photographs here is the demonstration of the 'ways the migrant workers chose to show themselves,' the migrant workers who I met during the last three years. In this process, I am just a mediator.
In addition to the photographs, I also show two video works.
"The March" is the one that I taped to show with `Applicants.' It covers various nationalities, races, marching mobs and their demonstrations. I wanted to show where they were from and what was going on in other parts of the world.
In video "Where are you come from,"-a question which always follows migrant workers-I tried to experiment and be playful by letting the migrant workers to ask back that question to the cameras.
Following is a poem that Germany-residing Korean Jung In-Duk wrote, specially for this exhibition. Jung emigrated to Germany as a miner in 1974. I hope that Jung's poem would cover any deficiency found in my works.
July, 20001 Park, Kyung Ju