SOUNDTRACK: BIOTOPE-TEMPORARY PROTECTORATE | Berlin, gallery damdam

The Korean Cultural Center’s gallery damdam is currently hosting Youngho Lee’s multimedia installation, in collaboration with music director Min Jun Park (aka DJ Soulscape), which explores and reconfigures footage that shaped (and continues to shape) South Korea’s rich musical culture.

In the 1950s, South Korea underwent rapid westernization, as the American-led onset of media, such as television and radio, mass-fed Americana to Korean consumers. Lee and Soulscape explore the historical creation of Korea’s unique “hybrid” musical culture, which merges Korean folk elements with American instrumentations and genres. As a historiography, the installation boasts archival footage that has been meticulously researched and compiled.

But the thrill of this piece stems from its creative confrontation with the problem of making sense of visual and audio recordings that have been created pell-mell, conserved and destroyed, in the name of censorship and propaganda. Lee evokes the difficult work of tracing back an edited past by for instance projecting a surfer on a black backdrop, riding a dreamy black emptiness. Screen projections overlap and blur, and a 16 mm device unspools its film in a repetitive floor-to-ceiling zig-zag formation, revealing ghostly negatives and creating the illusion of a wall or prison.

DJ Soulscape has addressed this conundrum by creating a new soundtrack from vestigial footage, complementing the space’s psychedelic aural and visual cues. Lee and Soulscape’s bold and playful choices compel you to give in to a world that has been forever lost and yet is being invented anew.

Free entry. Until 20 November 2019.

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