January 26th March 11th 2006
Fifty One Fine Art Photography is proud to present its first exhibition of the young Korean photographer Kyungwoo Chun.
Chun puts portraiture in a new position. The core of Chun’s intriguing method portraiture lies in the prolonged exposure time. Often the exposition time lasts the subject’s age in minutes, but it can also go up to several hours. The effect of this method is that the subjects being photographed become blurred figures, nonetheless with a certain expressiveness.
What fascinates the photographer most is that this kind of portrait photography requires the people involved to spend a long time in the same room together. This technique injects the image with a lot of energy and empathy.
Photographing people involves, in a way, according to Chun, an exchange of souls. What is essential to the creation is how the individual uses time during the exposure. The photographer repeatedly enters into dialogue with his subjects. As the model has an active role to play, movements and minor changes of position on the chair are all explicitly allowed. The energy that this creates resonates in the result. Long exposition time not only influences the intensification and sublimation of relations between the photographer and his model. It also directly influences the form and content of the images.
Because of the empathy between the Chun and his models every portrait becomes a self-portrait. You could say that all the people in his work are a PSEUDONYM of the photographer. Whereas Pseudonym generally reflects his work, it is also the title of one of his series.
In this specific series it is not the merging of the other and self, but the relationship between pairs of people that is the main focus of interest. They show couples standing opposite each other in the front and rear view pose. Each person’s right hand is resting on the other’s shoulder and their left hands clasped together. Here the idea is that the person in front of you is an alter ego. There is a dialogue taking place not so much between the photographer and his subjects but rather between the subjects themselves. During the long exposure time the participants automatically enter in a state of physical dependence on each other. The tired arms come to lean more and more on the other’s shoulder. These images question the extent in which we support each other or are a burden to each other in a relationship.
The other series on display is called light calligraphy. The technique of these portraits is also that of a long exposure time but while posing the subjects could write with a light pen their own text in the empty air. Doing calligraphy is a way of meditating or concentrating. The complexity of time and feeling involved in this concept needs you to rely on your imagination to try to see what you wrote.
Kyungwoo Chun was born in Seoul, South Korea. He graduated from Chung-Ang University’s School of Fine Arts in Seoul. He works in Germany and Seoul. Hatje Cantz recently published his monograph.