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Copyright all right reserved 2008 Cho Duck Hyun

  Photographic Memories _ Susan Candel 2008/08/24
Photographic Memories

For Duck-Hyun Cho, history is more than a  memory, and memory is more than a faded photograph. History is the present  tuned inside out and viewed from the other side: memories are things that can  be touched, but that need to be held.

  Cho, who lives and works in Seoul, South Korea,  gathers old photographs, translates them into black-and-white deawings and  presents those drawings as sculptires, framed by bulky structures of steel,  lead and wood. Those structures are layered with fragments of antique  embroidery, maps of Korea  and images of bright, blue sky. Then the fragments are painted over, so that  only traces of traces remain.

  The images at the center of each puece at Dorothy  Goldeen are equally eloquent: a beautiful young girl in traditional dress  holding a flower; a group of sober-faced women posing with a pair of watchful  missionaries; a baby bathing in the silhouette of her mother's face; an old  woman, her hands clenched in front of her, her every wrinkle etched with a  clarity that is less cruel than astonishing.

  Wrenched out of the grip of the ephemeral and  transmuted into constructions as heavy (literally) as lead, these faces, these  pictures, refuse to fade away. They are hyper-present. They are monumental. And  that monumentality is defied only by their intimacy.

  Inspired by the birth of his own daughter,  Cho's-Work embraces the history of Korea-particularly the history of women in Korea-during  the bloody, turbulent 20th Century. But what it makes palpable is the artist's  desire not just to honor the past-his country's and his daughter's-but to touch  it in some literal sense. It is therefore crucial that Cho transcribes the  photographs onto canvas not by machine, but by hand-painstakingly, with respect  for every detail, every nuance, every fold of every garment.

  This, however, is not enough. And so the artist  embellishes the images-with tiny scraps of iridescent silks, with thread sewn  and knotted according to he configuration of a favorite constellation. These  small flourishes work like candles lit in front of altars or offerings made at  gravesides. They do work of mourning, while expressing hope of something better  to come.

  Cho's work insists that history cannot tell its own  stories. Nor can photographs speak for themselves. Their power is activated-for  good or for ill-only through our intervention; their meanings results only  through our intention. Cho's intervention, Cho's intention, is nothing if not  honorable.

  by Susan Candel

March  11, 1993, -LA Times-


  Photographic Memories _ Susan Candel  
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