Korean Pride Photo Exhibition "Hello Again (Queer Together)"
You literally see photographer/archivist Kim Minsoo (He/They) at every regional pride parades and major LGBTQ+ 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ events in Korea. You see him, for a brief second, and then he's gone. You don't get to talk to him. He's always busy running around with his camera(s). He himself and others call him "activist who records and documents queer history of Korea".
Minsoo has been photographing and archiving these events since 2014 when he was working as a hired photographer for Seoul Pride (aka Seoul Queer Culture Festival). That's around the time I started becoming more active as a queer artist and drag performer too, so naturally we've run into each other very frequently, and so we've become friends. Below are the photos of me that he took.
Minsoo has put together and come up with an exhibition named 'Hello Again (Queer Together)' and started touring the country with it. The exhibition started at Snail Bookshop in Pohang in May, then it came to Seoul in July, and now it is being in Chuncheon, Gangwon-do. Find more details about the current exhibition venue, duration, hours, etc in the later part of the post.
Living and based in Seoul as an artist, I don't and can't travel much but luckily the exhibition came to Seoul in July - like I mentioned above - and I was happy to see the exhibition and Minsoo. I used to meet him a number of times each year, but since the COVID-19 pandemic began, I'd not seen his face. Not even once in the last year and a half or so! 😔
Seoul exhibition took place July 7-July 31 (2021) at LGBTQ+ bar/restaurant Lesvos which is located in queer central Itaewon. The venue owner is a lesbian woman in her 60s, who goes by Myeongwoo Hyeong (Hyeong is a Korean word for older brother). She is history. She is a legend. She's recently been in a critically acclaimed queer theatrical production as a drag king. I hope I will have a chance to talk more about her in a future post. Anyway, Lesvos is a safe space that is very welcoming. 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️
Here are some quotes from Minsoo's writing on the exhibition pamphlet. They are slightly edited and shortened in the process of translating, without distorting or changing the meanings.
"With the illusions created by lenticular technology, scenery and experience in a photograph get expanded, and show the flows and meanings that I discovered."
"I was feeling exhaustion from photographing and archiving so many LGBTQ+ events, but I told myself every hardworking activist lives with exhaustion. However, when the doctor said I needed a surgery, I finally decided to rest for a year because even without me, LGBTQ+ activism will continue and someone else will photograph and document it. Back then, I didn't know I would be indefinitely resting from doing what I used to do, due to the COVID-19 pandemic."
"In early 2021, there were three obituary notices that came from the transgender community. They were all well-known figures and one of them was a friend of mine."
"Now more than before, I want to meet people again. I miss my friends. I miss my fellow queer activists. I miss everyone."
I think these words from Minsoo explain why he chose 'Hello Again' as the title of the exhibition.
You can see how a lenticular photo works in the clip above. ALL of the exhibited photographs were printed using the lenticular printing technology. As fun as it looks, it's extremely expensive. I was like whooaa isn't Minsoo such a dedicated artist! It was so cool. 😮👏👏👏
And I did NOT know a photo of myself was included in the exhibition, so this was a pleasant surprise! And look, I showed up in the same exact snapback. 👒 The photo was taken five years ago in Daegu. I mean, what are the odds?!
There was a little shrine-like section dedicated to the late friend of Minsoo, Kim Kihong. Kihong was my friend too and I had so much respect for zir. Ze was the chief organiser of Jeju Island Pride (aka Jeju Queer Culture Festival) and openly out transgender activist who was also a teacher, musician, and politician who worked so hard to bring positive changes to the world. Minsoo gave out a transgender flag badge to every person who visited his exhibition.
Something that really impressed me and opened my eyes was the braille translation about the exhibition and the work that was available at the venue. It's something I've been noticing a lot lately - more and more LGBTQ+ events and activism in general have been becoming disability-friendly. We still have a long way to go, but I think we started to head to the right direction with this.
Now the exhibition is on in Chuncheon, Gangwon-do.
Venue: Salon De Nomad
Address: 87, Seobudaeseong-ro, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do
Duration: August 9-September 3 (2021)
Days and Hours: Monday-Saturday, 2PM-8PM
I spoke with Minsoo, and he told me that he has plans to bring the exhibition to Daegu, Gwangju, and some more cities, and possibly to Seoul again. If you want to stay updated with information about the upcoming exhibitions, or if you simply want to see more of his photography, then follow him on social media! 💃💃💃
I will end this post with some of his work, and I hope you enjoy them.
P.S. Minsoo uses He/They pronouns at the moment, and I decided to use He for this post, with his approval, after discussing with him.
P.S. All the Queer Culture Festival photos in this post are co-owned by Kim Minsoo and the festival committees.