<Jae Gu Kang_ Photographic exploration of Korean conscription system through 10 years>
Almost all Korean men are able to have experiences of EAD (entry on active duty) as rite of passage in Korea due to conscription system. It could be honor to serve as a soldier for his country but as matter of fact, that remains normally as a sort of trauma to himself. Those would give mental shock to every single young man that parting from lovely family, friends, lover and hard labor training with in the special military culture.
This is a real meaning of initiation rites to Korean young men. It means that he would be considered as an adult only after serving the military, who has legal and psychological legitimacy as a Korean man, learned virtues of a member of society, those are obedience, patience and loyalty to communities. Jae Gu Kang has taken those photographs this rite objectively and neutrally.
<Private>, <Reserve Soldier>, <Portrait Shot>, <12mm> are series of portrait works showing those of young twenties
<Private - 2002> is a work that shows disappearing individuals, changing í«themí» into soldiers in military culture where demands uniformity and collectivization.
<Reserve Soldier - 2004> is a work that shows í«themí» after service who have their own colors, existence and characteristics clearly belonging to social community, even though they are wearing military uniforms.
<Portrait Shot> is third work from real experience of Jae Gu Kang when he had served as an army photographer. He took pictures for identification of each soldiers. When he did that, he took pictures of two or three people together on just one cut not one by one, due to save his film. After that, he cut those to fit in right size of ID photographs.
<12mm> is extended work of those previous works and also means return to í«The beginningí». It is also real experience of himself just before joining the military. Motherí»s face with wet eyes during haircut, Brusque fatherí»s back with just a word í«take careí» hiding his tear drop, and after two years of serving the army, he heard his brotherí»s news that he is going to join the military. All of í«themí» feel fear and complex at the same time.
The act of haircut in 12mm before the service, is the starting point of a man changing into a solider, who enjoyed his twenties freely and personally. Identity of each personality should be replaced to uniformed and collectivized soldierí»s characteristics. The 12mm would act as penetrating symbolized code and division point between individual and soldier, society and military through young before and after army.
Jae Gu Kang, has recently been nominated for final artist of 4th KT&G Sang Sang Madang Korean Photographic program. He is taking nude portrait photographs of young men just before joining the army, which shows extreme anxiety before and after haircut. He is starting his work with an normal young man, and his moment of joining the army, at last ,his coming back to a member of society for several years that he wants to carry on. At present ,he is running a culture and art educational association Culture Media Joule.