10 digital silver prints
each: 25 x 30 cm or 30 x 25 cm
Courtesy of the artist
Torture—presented at Burning Down the House, the tenth edition of Gwangju Biennale in 2014—is a series that depicts practices of violence exercised on innocent citizens by the South Korean military dictatorship in the name of national security. Each photograph is staged by professional actors or friends of the artist’s, who enact a particular form of torture—such as “roast chicken,” “flying plane,” or “tongue pulling,” as well as “water, tongue and needle torture.” Created in the aftermath of the Seoul uprising of 1987, which commemorated the 1980 Democratization Movement, a number of photography studios refused to print his work at the time, as they still feared state retaliation. Torture is part of a broader series titled Human (1987–93), which highlights the plight of those who suffered and were denied their human rights as a result of the state policies that triggered the rapid industrialization of the then poor country.
Young-soo Kim (1946–2011, Busan, Korea) was a photographer wholived in Seoul, working on the themes of alienated workers, lost human rights and urban poverty, to criticize the distorted history and reality under the oppressive military dictatorship in the 1980s. He developed a unique approach to photography by resisting documentary or photographic realism and opting for new creative methods. Young-soo Kim founded the Korean Photographers Association in 1999 and served as its chairman from 2003 to 2011, and volunteered to take funerary portraits in the late 1990s. His solo exhibitions include Hyeon- Jeon (Dukson Gallery, Seoul, 1981), Human-standee (Dukson Gallery, Seoul; Hyunhwarang, Daegu, Korea, 1987), and Human-ID Card (Batangol Museum of Art, Seoul, 1987). Group exhibitions he participated in during his lifetime include Seoul Spring (Seoul Museum of Art, 1983), 15 Years of Folk Art (National Museum of Contemporary Art, Gwacheon, Korea, 1994), Gwangju Biennale (2002), and The Realism of Korean Fine Arts (Nigata Prefecture Bandaijima Museum, Japan, 2007).