Noh Suntag (b. 1971) focuses on the reality of division between the North and South Korea, demonstrating how the division, which actually infiltrates into the every day aspects of our lives, has distorted our society and personal life. Although public awareness as well as the political and military situation of the South and North Korea have not changed much during the 60 years since division, the division is no longer a topic of debate today. The reality of division has permeated into our awareness as a fact of life, and at this precise point in time, Noh’s photographs sharply interpret the ideologies of the division by capturing our everyday lives.
After beginning his career as a documentary photojournalist, Noh has published numerous photography books: Smells like the Division of the Korean Peninsula (2005); The strAnge ball (2006) which photographed the radome (radar + dome) in the US army base in Daechu-ri, Pyeong-taek; Red House (2007), documenting the differing aspects of North and South Korean society; State of Emergency (2008), a winner of the 2008 'German Photo Book Award'; reallyGood, Murder (2010), examining the exposure of war weapons; Listen to the Songs of Gureombi (2011), featuring interviews with residents who opposed to the construction of the U.S. naval base in Jeju Province; The Forgetting Machines (2012), looked back into the Gwangju Democratization Movement and In Search of Lost Thermos Bottles (2013), dealt with the North Korean shelling of Yeongpyeong Island. The overall theme penetrating all of these works is how the division “functions through malfunctioning.” Noh commented that “the division does not merely occupy specific time and space in Korea; it permeates everywhere, simultaneously instigating memory and oblivion, security and anxiety.”
After publishing Smells like the Division of the Korean Peninsula, Noh began to focus on the narrative element of documentary photography. While documentary photographs strive to emphasize the reality and deliver reality first-hand, The strAnge ball projects Noh’s aesthetic sensibility through intense and symbolic language, and the beautiful silhouette of the bombing planes in the sky in reallyGood, Murder metaphorically conveys an anxious psychological condition as if one were looking at a killing machine. Noh also invites the viewer’s imagination beyond the picture frame through his use of word play and ironic expressions in the titles of his works. Titles such as Lunatic Fidelity, Function and Malfunction, reallyGood, Murder and The strAnge Ball not only allude to the cross section of divided society, but also demonstrate the artist’s intentions in observing the fissures of the social system and public awareness in a twisted way.
- Quoted from MMCA Press Release
Exhibition Title: Sneaky Snakes in Scenes of Incompetence.
2016 Gu Bon Ju Art Prize, Korea
2014 Korea Artist Prize, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea
2012 Dong Gang Photogarphy Award, Korea
2009 German Photobook Award, Silver medal, Published by Hatje Cantz, Gemany
National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea / Seoul Museum of Art / Daejeon Museum of Art / Daelim Contemporary Art Museum / The Museum of Photography Seoul / Coreana Museum of Art / Peace Museum, Korea / The May 18 Memorial Foundation / Dong Gang Museum of Photography / F.C. Gundlach Collection(Germany)