Shards of North K.
- Li Han / Hu Yan / Zhang Xintong / Wang Zixin / Li Chunman / Fan Qiyan / Yang Wenlu
Shards of North K. is a collection of 6 drawings made of stained glass, created for the exhibition “From Antung to Dandong: Rafts, Broken Bridges and Strangers on the Yalu River” held at Wind H Art Center in Beijing from March 13 to June 05, 2022.
The initial brief DAS received from the curator Liang Chen was to create a stained-glass artwork about North Korea’s utopian grandeur architecture. To DAS, those grand buildings are just symbols of power, and their utopian conception is questionable. What would be much more interesting is to depict local everyday spaces than grand buildings. So, DAS set their sights on Sinuiju, a North Korean city across the Yalu River from the Chinese city of Dandong. From this side of the river in Dandong, the silhouette of Sinuiju looks blurred but real, further stimulating our imagination about that mysterious country.
In DAS’ previous works, they always rely on many details of life for the portrayal the everyday space. But in this piece, the details of everyday life become some abstract and simplified symbols: dancers wearing hanbok dress, groups performing gymnastics, portrait of the leader, sentinels, police booth, chimneys, trucks … On one hand, this is to adapt to the production process of stained glass, avoiding the production challenges of too fine details. On the other hand, it reflects the sense of mystery and strangeness that one would feel when looking across the river to North Korea.
This leads to the paradox of the creation of this piece. Although DAS consider those grand architecture some pale and powerless symbols and are eager to present the everyday life of the ordinary people in North Korea, they are unable to know exactly how the local people live their life and can only construct some imagination through fragmented images. Those grandeur and collective symbols are replaced with everyday and personal ones. Because of distance and isolation, in the end, everything remains in the state of symbols.