A Mnemonic System, 2018
50 digital prints on newspaper
each: 54.5 × 39.5 cm
Courtesy of the artist
Presented as an installation during Imagined Borders in 2018, A Mnemonic System is a series of photographs that were taken within the former Armed Forces’ Gwangju Hospital and printed in the local daily newspaper, Chonnam Ilbo. The former hospital was where those brutally tortured and assaulted by Chun Doo-hwan’s military were treated, making it a dark site in the history of the May 18 Movement. Mnemonic systems are normally set up to help one remember something. By constructing an “archive” of contemporary images of the former Armed Forces’ Gwangju Hospital, Back sees these photographs as part of a system, one that helps retrieve personal memories through the documented traces of ruin in the building.
Seung Woo Back (b. 1973, Daejeon, Korea) unveils the subtle boundary between reality and unreality, virtual and real, and the seen and unseen, experimenting with photography as a medium. Back studied photography in Korea and later received degrees in Fine Art and Art Theory from Middlesex University, London. He is also a photography professor in the Department of Visual Communication & Design at Hongik University. His recent solo exhibitions include Artist of the Year 2016 (MMCA, Seoul, 2016), Walking on the Line (Center A, Vancouver, Canada, 2015), Gaps, Unrealistic Generals (Gana Art Center, Seoul, 2012), Blow Up (Misashin Gallery, Tokyo, 2011). His works have been also presented in group exhibitions such as Controlled Perspectives (Belfast Photo Festival, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 2019) and the 12th Gwangju Biennale: Imagined Borders (2018).