FLORIAN BONG-KIL GROSSE (Berlin, Germany)
I am a german photographer with korean background living in Berlin. I was send for adoption to Germany when i was still young and returned to my birthcountry in 2011 for the first time. Since that time i work on different projects related to my experience in Korea. My works are more associative than following documentative traditions. My observations of everyday life are dealing with the perceptions of inner versus outer reality, identity formation as well as urban space, nature, the body and the gesture.
Title of work: Insomnia
Production of work: 2016/2017
These photographs were taken at an intersection located under a music-mall in Jogno-district of Seoul. Intersections are non-places. Their only function being the wait and the transit; they are almost atemporal. But here and only for a short moment the light reaches the people waiting and passing, and transforms this public place into a stage for a spontaneous performance. The setting shines a spotlight on the choreography of an insignificant moment of waiting.
Although set in public space, with subjects brutally exposed by light, the images manage to capture intimate moments. The camera frames and reveals the microscopic movements and unconcious gestures of the passer-by: The gaze on the person next to you… the driving of a hand through the hair… a cheek resting on a shoulder… The work seeks a proximity that appears antithetical to this public situation. It brings up questions about our perception of public and private space.
Title of work: Ajeossi
Production of work: 2015-2017
One of my favorite places around Korea´s capital Seoul is the old town of Jogno district. I still remember my first impressions almost 10 years ago when i walked through the narrow streets next to the historic site of Pagoda Park for the first time. It is one of the few areas that mostly kept its original aspect – as if time has stood still. The streets are crowded with mostly elder korean men commonly called “ajeossis”. Day by day they come here to discuss about politics, to gamble or meet up with their female counterparts -the “ajummas”- at one of the old-fashioned dance clubs around.
Surprisingly amoung these elder generations of koreans particulary the men tend to dress up more elegantly sometimes even eccentrically. When they gather and occupy whole quarters i percieved them more as a subculture with its very own rules rather than simlpy old grown people. Indeed within the borders of a society that follows strongly confucian ideas age is a very important factor for every social relationship.
For the younger age groups the ajoessis commonly are known for their old-fashioned attitudes and irreconcilable stubbornness, but for me they often appeared particular fascinating and mysterious.
Whereas the modern korea shows such a high sensibility for trends i was always attracted by the authenticity of these simple old men from the streets. The work is one of my few rather documentative works where photography bears a document of contemporary witness of a vanishing phenomenom.
Title of work: The Lost, the Found and the Forgotten
Production of work: 2016/2017
A short photo-essay about time and decay in urban space. Every object has its own history. It can be exploited differently regardless its original purpose and has the capacity to adapt respectively the outer circumstances. In the corners and niches of the cities i explore the processes of time and its effect on these found objects.
Practice Statement: How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?
I use film for different reasons. Besides its materiality and characteristic colour reproduction, it particulary defines the process of taking photographs.The number of pictures you take is limited, so you are obliged to make final decisions at a point. You have to make the best out of a moment and live with the results. That´s how life works at the end.