Phalanxes, processions and congregations of traditionally dressed Korean
Kiseng (Geisha) appear mysteriouslz in the abandoned ruined streets of Berlin. Their presence is due to a spatial distortion. In the middle of last
century, Korea and Germany were both smoldering ruins.
These Kiseng, in their traditional garb, represent the first liberated women of
Korea. They were expected to be
literate, well read and expert musicians and performers. They accessed the highest strata of Korean
society and were intimates of the powerful and distinguished.
In these images we can see Europe in ruins. Whereas Europe rebuilt itself in a utopian
socially-progressive manner, using the ravages of war to strip away much
of the cumbersome and troubling
qualities of local culture in favour of a neo-enlightenment international rationalism, Europe sought to
realize the highest ideals of humanism.
In Korea, traditions were also shed, but here, utterly, and a future was
propogated based on Western values. The Kiseng would soon be
In a way the end of the Korean war in Korea and the end of WWII in
Europe was the consummate rejection of tradition in favour of enlightenement values. The women recede into the distance, they are
free but they are also not needed anymore, there are big changes ahead.
Text by Baruch Gottlieb