Sunday, February 23, 2014


'Johwa' is the Korean word for 'harmony' 'unity' 'balance'

we (two photographer/curators, a dancer and I) recently hosted an art show in Greenwich Village NYC -- which had as a key focus:: raising awareness about North Korea.

What comes to mind when you hear the words 'North Korea'?

maybe you've seen the Vice documentary series on youtube

or this bizarre FRONTLINE episode

then there's the aerial shot of NK at night,_satellite_image-SPL.jpg

while this blog post could go in many directions, I'll keep it to-point via a description of the 'Johwa' art show.

one of our first steps was to choose a solid charity
we went with the best-known NK awareness group in America: LiNK

there's a strong group at Columbia Univ -- we teamed up with them
and wound up booking the CEO of LiNK ! (she came and spoke at the opening reception!)

time to select artists -- 
we reached out to over 20 ---- and booked them ^^
photographers, painters, mix-media, a video artist, poets, performers -- lots of variety
(range from a MICA professor to a highschool student)
a friend from Texas shipped a piece up, a friend from Yale mailed a photo down.. SVA students, a Hunter MFA student, Parsons, Pratt grad, on and on..

we even had an artist 'meet n' greet', where we snacked on shrimp crackers, choco pies and Korean tea
*speaking of choco pies -- these lil' guys have been getting smuggled into NK from SK ---- been a hot topic
an artist in Baltimore picked up on this and ran with it -- putting on a big show in a Chelsea gallery ---- just before Johwa show.. some of us were at the opening -- thousands of choco pies (i filled my pockets!)!ecfa-ny/cjg9

additionally, i bumbled across/into this show in LES

more and more people are shining light on the NK situation!

and let's face it -- we're living in 2014 ---- why let concentration camps and harsh dictatorships oppress people

is the job of the U.N. to be watchful and intervene if human rights are being trampled underfoot 

in news (which appeared in papers after our art show), the U.N. has been sharpening its focus on NK (good!)

i've heard China has interest in NK -- have even heard the place referred to as 'China's pitbull' ------ do we sit back and let this go on

one piece (a watercolor) in the show was of a girl (in beautiful costume with fans) dancing

part of the description (of the piece by the artist) encourages the viewer to imagine a dancer enjoying her art without having to wear a pin with a picture of 'the leader' on it

have a view at a few pieces in the show on this HKJB blog post

Opening night was PACKT full of people
we had catered Korean food -- at one point my plate got knockt around -- tofu went flying!

A full-on dance performance by one of the show's organizers capped off the eve --
her, two girls from Sweden, and a girl from Japan 

multiple cultures uniting in dance at an art event to increase awareness for North Korea

think about the not-too-distant history of East and West Germany.. that dense wall, which divided the great country.... -- 

in the 80's it came down!

imagine a Korea that is One

i'll conclude this post by describing the painting i had in show::
oil paint (and mix media) on.. a hard drive enclosure
the title: 'a fusion of factors'
here's the message to viewers:

oil paint has such a rich history -- think Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, etc
so.. it speaks to the past.. 
far as NK goes, I see a lot of 'the past' -- a ruler dictating over a sea of malnourished masses (ancient!)
thug minions hurling 'dissenters' into harsh labor camps -- torture -- other vulgar activity --- comprise a rather primitive reality, does it not

now.. the paint is painted onto a 
brushed-aluminum hard drive enclosure
here (obv) we speak to the now -- technology -- the time in which we live -- in which we can tap some buttons on keyboard, click send, and zap information to countless readers all over the word -- think of the connectivity -- think of the accountability ---- no longer are things 'out of sight, out of mind' -- they are in sight, we are online, we see! -- now what are we going to do ---- it's 2014! how can it be that we're allowing concentration camps to exist  

think 'global accountability' -- think what you know from what you see online, on tv, documentaries, in newspapers -- think your generation -- think action

now, to be clear, i'm very keen on focusing on your own neighborhood -- being proactive and blessing your community -- ie, roll up sleeves and chip in to clean up a trashed section in the Bronx or Harlem (instead of fixating on a place thousands of miles away) (yes! all for it!) 

how about we agree on both/and
fight the good fight in your local surroundings 

and be shining a light to help others in places around the world

North Korea, what can you do to raise awareness
think 'human beings'
think of the amount of freedom you enjoy

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." -- M.L.K. Jr.