Portraits of Time.
Photographs by BohnChang Koo. Text by Suejin Shin.
HOMI Publishing, Seoul, In Korean and E, 2004. 120 pp., 45 b&w illustrations, 8x11".
Signed copies available!
Koo is one of Korea's foremost fine-art photographers, well-established in his own country and beginning to exhibit more frequently and more widely in the West. Any visitor to Fotofest in 2000 will remember the exhibition of 10 Korean photographers, which included Koo along with both Byunghun Min and Jungjin Lee. Portraits of Time is an exquisite book object, finely printed and bound and presenting three separate but intertwined bodies of work, Riverrun, Portraits of Time, and White. In each of these groups of images, Koo has focused on single objects, creating compositions that eliminate spatial context and obscure the subject matter. The grouping for which the book is named consists of what appear to be skyscapes over a distant horizon—the earth and horizon line comprise barely an 1/8 of the frame. The dusk sky and rolling gray clouds speak of a favonian evening drive in the country. But as you look more closely and move from image to image you get the sense of a different reality in front of the camera. The earth has wood grain and the sky, an occasional crack. These are really plaster walls with accumulated layers of dust standing in for clouds. It's that first double-take and the consequent mental adjustment that makes the work resonate all that much more. The group entitled White takes another set of walls as a starting point. Here an abstract, pock marked wall is the result of pulling vines away from the sides of edifices. The directions one's interpretations can head are endless and marks, perhaps, the most significant accomplishment of these photographs—how one's simple surroundings can be jumping off points for the imagination. - Darius Himes
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