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Commodity & Ideology Part II

October 12 to October 31, 2017

Church Center for the United Nations, New York City

Commodity & Ideology Part II


October 12 to October 31, 2017

Opening Reception

with Doug Hostetter's welcoming remarks


Thursday, October 12 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Heng-Gil Han's Presentation

Saturday, October 21 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.


The Church Center for the United Nations

777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017

October 12 through October 31, 2017
*entrance on East 44th Street


Hours of operation:

9:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Weekdays ONLY

September 29, 2017, New York, NY — Korea Art Forum (KAF) is pleased to announce Commodity & Ideology, Part II , a group photography exhibition featuring Song-Gwang Hong, Myong-Un Kim, and Ryong Kim, who are from North Korea and are based in Pyongyang; Zaun Lee, who is from South Korea and is based in New York; and Shen Yang who is from China and is based in Beijing.


This past summer, Korea Art Forum invited three North Korean artists to visit New York City as part of our artist-in-residency program. While waiting for their US visa approval, which they were ultimately unable to obtain, they stayed in Beijing from July 27 through August 8, taking thousands of photographs throughout the city. Our exhibition features their work, together with the work of Shen Yang, who visited New York from July 29 through August 20; and the Korean-American artist, Zaun Lee, who is currently making photographs in London and Athens.

The artists have taken photographs of common spaces including museums, marketplaces, streets, and tourist attractions. Commodity & Ideology collects their photographs and presents more than 1,500 images in a form that appropriates the format of a contact sheet in the neutral and universal grid structure of “one next to another” and “one after another.”


Provoked by the prolonged conflict, growing military tensions, and the vicious circle of crisis and war threats between North Korea and the US, the exhibition is organized to serve as a metaphor for imagining a peaceful world in which North Korean and international artists freely exchange their ideas and knowledge. The exhibition also aims to dismantle ignorance and biases that permeate through the collective consciousness of both countries. By using the photographic medium, the exhibition seeks to explore identities and differences in the worldviews of North Korean, South Korean-American, and Chinese artists. Without generalizing the contributing artists’ individual worldviews, the goal of the exhibition is to enable us to recognize what is missing in our efforts to achieve peace with North Korea.


The exhibition is directed by the logic that a photograph inherently has a frame of focus that manifests the point of interest of the photographer. By looking at the artists’ images, we can see both their common and different interests. By understanding these interests, we can begin to see a new aspect of the structure of the current crisis among the involved countries. Only when we see through the architecture of the crisis, can we begin to see the conflict through the eyes of the other, and explore new ways to resolve the crisis. The exhibition seeks to provide a blueprint for building understanding between our peoples, and insights for our governments for the peaceful resolution of the current crisis. We hope that this exhibit will draw attention to the contributions that the exchange of the visual arts, which reflect the society in which they are made, can make to transforming the current crisis between North Korea and the US.

Commodity & Ideology is supported in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Cultural Development Fund by the Department of Cultural Affairs of New York City, Mennonite Central Committee, the United Methodist Women, and individual contributors. The exhibition is designed in collaboration between Heng-Gil Han and Rahul Alexander, with assistance from Matt Greco.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

NYC Cultural Affairs
United Methodist Women
Mennonite Central Committee
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