Acerbos Town in North Korea is a place to disappear. Visitors can wear disguise and hide from the authorities for days on end. “Hidden Face,” is the latest exhibition at Seoul’s Department Store Mart that imagines the country of the future. North Korea observers have come to know that showcasing visitors to shows like the one at this department store is a way of assuring the public that officials want your approval.
Seoul-based curator Borujun Suwon’s exhibition, “The Art Museum Between North and South Korea,” provokes unexpected conversations.
Suwon, who spent 20 years teaching in China and taught at Tsinghua University before South Korea’s first museum school opened in 2011, admits that the piece is taking on an unexpected message.
“The idea for ‘Hidden Face’ came from my trip to Japan last year,” Suwon says. “I visited Tokyo and I saw artists who wear masks to conceal their identities. When I saw that, I thought, ‘If I was to go to North Korea, I’d wear a mask so as not to be recognized.'”
Suwon says the main goal of his show was to “look at how the one side can police the other side,” but admits the purpose was definitely expanded on when he realized he couldn’t just send the show packing after 10 days.