In Peripheral Fantom Index, Korean-American artist Young Sun Han demonstrates his continued concern with his personal history and the context of his origins, particularly his North Korean connection. Current news stories coming out of the region serve to amplify Han’s fascination with the ancestors who continue to haunt him. Using found photographs from family albums as well as internet sources YouTube and Instagram, Han seeks to evoke the spirits of the past in order to process and exorcise them.
Fantom Border Crossers depict surviving members of Han’s family who escaped across the 38th parallel before the borders were completely sealed during the Korean War. These people have never been located and their fates remain unknown. For Han, these individuals represent his ‘peripheral fantoms’; ever present, always behind his shoulder should he choose to look. In Han’s works their portraits have been transferred onto old photo album pages, which have naturally aged; glue has yellowed and white areas have emerged where original North Korean photographs were once placed. Han’s ghosts of the past fuse with the more abstract ghosts – the poetic, minimal shapes left behind on the pages. Surviving spirits take the place of the missing memories.
Small paintings in the series explore more recent imagery from North Korea taken from subjective media sources. The Famous Anonymous (First Instagram from North Korea) present s an isolated Kareoke singer; Unidentified Labourer partially depicts an anonymous worker interviewed by Vice magazine for a bootleg documentary. North Korean Unicorn illustrates a particular absurd news story from the region.
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