Art has a powerful way of crossing language boundaries and barriers of the heart to convey a personal message. Some of the most effective activism for social change for wartime sex slaves have come through art (ie. multimedia art, the bronze comfort woman memorial) and films.

ART제안, a talented group of Korean artists from South Korea, held an art exhibit on wartime sex slavery, euphemistically known as “comfort women” at the Hague, Netherlands last winter. These artists poured heart and soul into their powerful art. Thanks to former MP Kathleen Ferrier who helped organize the Hague event. Kathleen met the artists in Hong Kong during their first exhibition in October 2017.

“Because ‘justice’ should be known. And without recognizing the past there is no future.”
-2018.11.16.금.18시. 네덜란드 헤이그 Quartair, Kathleen Ferrier의 오프닝 스피치 中
Opening speech: Kathleen Ferrier (former Dutch member of parliament)

전 네덜란드 상원의원인 Kathleen Ferrier이 지난 홍콩에서의 전시에 이어 이번에도 와 주셨습니다. 작년 10월, 홍콩의 JCCAC에서 열린 전시<Why Do We Sing, War and Women>에서도 “Why Do WE Sing?” (우리는 왜 노래하는가?)을 외치는 호소력 짙은 연설과 함께 작품들에 대해서도 진심어린 감상과 응원을 해 주셨던 것이 기억에 남습니다.

아트제안의 활동을 기대하며 늘 협조의 의지를 표해주신 Kathleen에게 감사하고, 이번 전시를 준비하신 Quartair(콰타이어)의 Jessy Rahman과 도움주신 네덜란드 작가님들, Kees Biekart 교수님께도 감사드리며 이어질 ISS와의 오픈토론, 다크투어도 기대해 봅니다.

Kathleen Ferrier is also a professor at the Women’s University in Bangladesh and works with women parliamentarians
Artist Eunyoung Heo

I asked one of the organisers from Seoul, artist Eunyoung Heo to share her thoughts about the exhibit. Eunyoung wrote:

This year, ArtZeAn held an exhibition in The Hague with Dutch artists under the theme “E-Witness: Women and War.” E-Witness means a witness, who through digital means brings back first-person accounts that we must remember from the past or the present into the present and the future.

Through this exhibition, the artists paid attention to the existence of witnesses who have come back to us today. At the same time, an artist who speaks on behalf of someone who can’t speak is another kind of witness. Therefore, E-Witness incorporates these concepts of witnesses.

The organizers of Quartair and ArtZeAn were able to organize a joint event to display these artworks with the Institute of International Studies in The Hague. On November 21, participants from various fields including artist, activists, and students discussed the topic of ‘Beyond Victimhood.’

This talk was led by Professor Kees Biekart of ISS with guest speakers Kathleen Ferrier and Malini Laxminarayan, the program officer from Mukwege Foundation, with artist Shim Jung-ah of ArtZeAn participating in the discussion. Discussing Japanese military sexual slavery also tells us a story about human rights activists and the Statues of Peace.  

On November 24, Professor Biekart guided participants through various places in the town of Hague that showed a shameful and painful side of history. South Korea’s artists had previously informed other participants about East Asian female sexual slavery as a focus in the discussion of human right abuses, while the Dutch participants informed the visiting Korean artist about the former slave trade shaped by the global economy at the time. Both groups shared their history of deeply rooted inequality and exploitation of those in weak positions.

Most of all, many people were impressed with Kathleen Ferrier, who followed up last year’s Hong Kong exhibition’s opening speech with another impressive speech at Quartair, and the discussion held by ISS. Thanks to her, ArtZeAn’s activities and the meaning of the works to the artists, were able to shine at the exhibition. (by artist Eunyoung Heo)

Photos from the October 2017 art exhibit by ArtZeAn

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