VOLUME 26 #1

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An artist explores secrets in South Korea

image of painting of a woman with black birds
Photo by Ashley Barnas

CAMPUS | Awed by the power of secrets and intrigued by the idea that “they are as surely revealed by what we display than what we try to conceal,” artist and associate art professor Priscilla Smith featured her photographic series, Sēkrit, in a solo exhibition that ran from Dec. 5 through Dec. 21, 2017, at the Czong Institute of Contemporary Art in South Korea.

Despite the obvious overtones of both the show’s theme and location, Smith met very few people willing to openly discuss politics. But conversations she had in private illuminated events that Smith had not heard in the media—and ones she’s reluctant to repeat even now.

“It’s clear to South Koreans that there are North Korean agents circulating in South Korea with their ears to the ground on who’s saying what to whom,” says Smith. “Any verbal transgressions could jeopardize their life, and the lives of their family.”

Still, she concedes some information: The people of South Korea hold open demonstrations to push for continued American military presence. “They roll their eyes at the president’s Twitter battles,” Smith adds, “but they will not say anything negative about Mr. Trump because he has so much control over the safety of their country.”