neutral nations

  • 2019
  • DMZ / Suwon / Seoul South Korea
  • found footage, video, photography, installation, performance

Neutral Nations

"Neutral Nations" is a multimedia installation by the artist Enrique Muñoz García based on a collection of found video footage: the presidents and military leaders of various countries look through binoculars into the DMZ between the two Koreas.

A binocular symoblizes espionage, control, and military use in general. In this video the two Koreas engage in mutual observation, a process that marks the complex relationship between the two countries that originates from the 1950s.

This Swiss military shirt belongs to the "Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission" in the DMZ. The term "Neutral Nations" was defined as those nations whose combat forces did not participate in the hostilities in Korea. Switzerland is an active part of this supervisory commission.

The work Neutral Nations was created for the project "Art Politics - Border crossing - Onsaemiro" organized by Shuroop Group from the city of Suwon and the international environmental art symposium Nine Dragon Heads. The research destination of the project is the DMZ (The Demilitarized Zone ), a 4 km wide, 250 km long buffer zone that divides Korea into two almost even parts. It was created on July 27, 1953, after the agreement between North Korea, China, and the UN Command.

Magda Guruli, Curator

Neutral Nations
Enrique Munoz Garcia

"Neutral Nations"는 기존에 존재하던 비디오 장면을 모아 만들어낸 한 멀티미디어 설치물이다. 비디오는 여러 국가의 대통령과 군 지도자들이 쌍안경을 통해 난북한의 DMZ를 들여다 보는 장면을 보여줍니다.

쌍안경은 일반적으로 스파이, 통제, 그리고 군사적인 사용을 상징한다. 이 영상에서 남북한은 1950년대부터 시작된 양국의 복잡한 관계를 보여주는 과정인 상호관찰을 이야기 하고 있다.

이 스위스 군 셔츠는 DMZ내 “중립국 감시위원회”에 소속되어 있다. “Neutral Nations (중립국 )"이라는 용어는 한국에서 적대적인 행위에 가담하지 않는 나라들로 정해졌다. 스위스는 이 감독 위원회에서 활동적으로 참여하고 있다.

이 작품은 수원시의 Shuroop 그룹과 국제환경미술 심포지엄인 ‘나인 드래곤 헤드’가 주관하는 ‘예술정치- 무경계 - 온새미로’ 프로젝트를 위해 창조되었다. 이 프로젝트의 연구 목적지는 한국을 거의 균등한 두 부분으로 나누는 폭 4km, 길이 250km의 완층 지대인 DMZ이다. 1935년 7월 27일 북-중, 유엔군사령부 간 합의 이후 만들어졌다.

Magda Guruli, Curator

reviews

Critical retrospection of the previous works responding to the series of "Neutral Nations"

In 2019 Enrique Muñoz García created the curatorial essay “Women with Binoculars”, a selection of the images by seven Magnum photographers. This series, shows the women using binoculars to look at something taking place outside the frame. The presence of binoculars in the images tends to render the photographed women anonymous and makes them both the subject of the image and the agent. While the act of pointing one’s binoculars at something and visually tracking one’s target evokes surveillance, visual control, or military espionage – the actions often associated with a male – this new collection of photographs invites us to rethink the social and political role of women in our system of representation.

In 2016 Enrique Muñoz García made a collaborative performance named "Observing the New Landscape" in the Suncheon Bay International Eco-Environmental Art Festival in South Korea. For the performance, he invited people attending the event to look through binoculars at a certain point from a previously set place that was chosen without a political transcendence or specific importance. The performance was based on enhancing and conceptualize the act of looking, or rather "The political sense of looking".

In 2011 Muñoz García created another performative and photographic work entitled "Opposite" in collaboration with an artist from UK Bruce Allan. The work was a series of the portraits taken in Uzbekistan. The concept was connected with the reduction of the Aral Sea that took place in the 1960-s after the direct intervention of a man. Among the places chosen for these photos were cotton fields, the Aral Sea area and the cities of Samarqand and Bukhara. The work was finished in the city of Moynaq, formerly a seaport, nowadays a desert. In this complex landscape and among rusted fishing boats they took the last simultaneous photograph as a performance, to close the photographic series and finish the work. The conceptual idea of "Opposite" was portraying man in his new landscape, changed as a consequence of the production and generation of immediate capital with long-term consequences. "Opposite" was shown weeks after the last performance at the Artisterium Art Festival in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Going back further, in 2009 Enrique Muñoz García took a photograph in Chile, a woman looking through binoculars with a Chilean warship in the background. Starting from this photograph he began to collect amateur black and white photos with the same premise: women looking through binoculars. From that moment until today, this collection of amateur photographs of women with binoculars has been extended to approximately 800 photos from his archive, which contains more than 20,000 amateurs founded photographs and cataloged in different subjects. A large part of these issues considers and rethinks the role of "women in the history of man". The decision to collect these photos and unite them conceptually are part of a complex system of minimalist repetitions and delimitations. This collections and the work with founded photos give the artist the ability to tell untold and fictional stories, retell the story or change it in an analytical way, but always with an artistic purpose. The way to look for amateur photographs is directly related to the action of photographing, that`s why found photos become a photographic act. Considering all these aspects, the role of a collector, curator, and a photographer, work complementary and in similar ways.

Magda Guruli, Curator, Suwon, South Korea 2019