Seung Woo Back - Utopia | PHOTOFAIRS

Seung Woo Back - Utopia

© SEUNG WOO BACK, Utopia #011. Courtesy of Gana Art (Seoul) & Suum Projects (Seoul)

Seung Woo Back - Utopia
Courtesy of Gana Art (Seoul) & Suum Projects (Seoul)

Like Blow Up, Utopia also takes North Korea as its subject matter, but Back’s intention here is different. In Blow Up, at least the ostensible signifier is clearly North Korea. On the contrary, that of Utopia is obscured and in consequence, it seems to depict an ‘imaginary utopia’ which does not exist in reality. The clues that indicate North Korea can be detected here and there, yet the distortion of shapes and colors makes the overall image utterly unrealistic. The oppressive and domineering dystopia of North Korea is paradoxically presented as an ideal ‘utopian’ world.

For this individual show, Back divided one of the images included in Utopia into 13 parts, sent them by wireless to 13 countries, printed them, sent each print back to South Korea and reassembled them into a large-scale photograph. In other words, Utopia underwent a series of processes of transmission and mailing, and this resulted in the materialistic differences between the prints that were put into in different countries. Then, the prints were recomposed. In result, it is separated from the earliest photographic action of pressing the shutter to the extent that the backtracking on the processes applied to it is almost impossible.