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Buffer Zone : Human-made Landscape
Written by Haevan Lee
Master Artistic Research at the Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague (2020-2022)
Limited edition



Supervised by Jasper Coppes
Proofreader : Georgie Brinkman
Graphic Design : Studio165
Potograph : Haevan Lee, Yang Ian
Printed in The Netherlands,
on April 2022
My research explores the geopolitical landscape of borders across the globe, in the form of a ‘painterly’ study of such sites. This thesis researches 'boundary' and 'buffer zone', and questions how the existence of the buffer zone could be connected to the functions of art. Starting from my personal history with the buffer zone of the Korean DMZ while imagining crossing that boundary, or entrusting myself to the fluctuating boundary, I step into a field where moral values, political values, and artistic values collide, step by step.

In the present age, past histories are repeated all over the earth and new situations are unfolding. Protests, wars, discrimination, violence, epidemics, border closures, etc. For artists, their experiences make them constantly reflect on how they relate reality to their past historical experiences and what values they should pursue in the future. Living in this society, we could try to understand political, philosophical, historical, and impersonal values, and at the same time seek freedom and value through art.


Contents


Intro
From borderland
Border crossing
Reason for existence of buffer zone
  1. Neutrality
  2. Alleviating confusion
  3. Conservation (greenbelt)
Battleground 
Croquis 
Over the wall
Steps to the Art Museum
Invitation


Intro


In the present age, past histories are repeated all over the earth and new situations are unfolding. Protests, wars, discrimination, violence, epidemics, border closures, etc... For artists, their experiences so far make them constantly reflect on how they relate reality to their past historical experiences and what values they should pursue in the future. Living in this society, I try to understand political, philosophical, historical, and impersonal values, and at the same time seek freedom and value through art.

I entered BA art college and drew landscapes (DMZ Landscapes series) around me. However, after showing artworks in public, this notion originated from the idea that when an individual's work belongs somewhere, there is a possibility that it belongs to society and can be interpreted ideologically. Also, I had the following thoughts while participating in a group exhibition with several artists. When it contains some great social message, the voice becomes louder and becomes art as a part of historical action.


About 50 Korean artists participated in the “DMZ” exhibition, and it was planned as a space to depict not only the history of the DMZ but also the peace process that is currently the Demilitarized Zone. The exhibition and venue (Culture Station Seoul 284) have a common symbolism as a “starting point” for peaceful coexistence and inter-Korean exchanges. The subsequent exhibition ‘Borderless.site' is also a regional research/exhibition project. The border area is studied and exhibited with other scholars, artists, and architects, and through this attempts are made to establish lasting connections and solidarity. This is because of the geopolitical situation that Korea is a divided country.


When I participated in the Bangkok Biennale, peaceful protests and police crackdowns were taking place across Thailand. A protest took place right in front of BACC, where my work was exhibited, and a Thai artist asked the participating artists for solidarity. We stated against violence in support of Thai democracy protesters. “...As artists, we thrive in a society that supports our ability to speak out and speak to the times in which we live. Such a society meets calls for progressive change not with a crackdown but a commitment to building understanding, dialogue and collectivity. October 21, 2020 ”

However, even in these chaotic situations, the artwork itself is protected. Even during the wars of history, not only works of art but also the talents of artists have been protected. You cannot touch the artworks on the walls and pedestals of art galleries and museums but only look at them from a certain distance. Of course, there are various forms of art, but the artist observes and looks at the world and objects surrounding him in a changing world, and records what opens their realms of senses to the depths.


In the meantime, many contradictory questions arise. Starting from the buffer zone of the DMZ that is close to me, I step into a field where moral values, political values, and artistic values collide, step by step. 




@The Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, Netherlands
@Madrid Art Book Fair Libros Mutantes 22 at La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain 22-24 April 2022


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