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City of true fakes

The city square became a mess. The square that used to be a weapon for the truth is not there anymore. We, who do not care about others’ sorrow, fight each other to strengthen the truth. In the city of Seoul we live in, the assailant becomes the victim, and the victim becomes the assailant. Seoul plays Truth or Dare of good or evil all the time.


The picture of Kim Seung-gu asks questions. What is real and what is fake in this city? Kim Seung-gu's photo is located amid tension between real and fake. The obvious fake becomes the reality of our daily lives, and the picture says, "What you see, what you know may not be real or fake." The fake Seoul in his photos are too realistic which makes it sadder.

On February 10, 1968, the Bamseom island of the Han River was blown up with dynamite. Bamseom Island was erased from Seoul. A new natural ecosystem has been created for 50 years on the island which is like a symbol of urban development. The past of Bamseom Island seen from numerous vehicles passing through Seogang Bridge, Mapo Bridge, Yeouido and Mapo high-rise apartments has been deleted. The past of the blown up island is refused to people like us who live a comfortable life.

Photographer Kim Seung-gu stands with a large analog camera on the Bamseom island which is like a huge Truth or Dare of urban development . It takes time to get to know a subject in depth and detail. Analog photographic media, which chemically sculpts the light and time of the target on film, seems suitable for tracking the hidden past and new wildlife ecosystems of Bamseom Island. The deep, rich strains of large analog photographs, and the ever-expanding details make us think deeper and know more about the existence of Bamseom, which has been blown up by dynamite. His camera does not judge or prove. Inside and outside of Bamseom Island, he carves the surface of the island through photography.


In Seoul, where real and fake cannot be distinguished, Kim Seung-gu’s photos do not show the end of Bamseom’s destiny but help us talk about the present of Bamseom. It reminds us how human beings coexist with nature.

By Sungwoo Choi, Artspace Boan 1942

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