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Art education student brings South Korea’s Blackswan Dance Company to FOFA Gallery

Dance performance part of student Seonjeong Yi's exhibit on the experiences of Korean "Comfort Women" during the second world war
June 2, 2017
By Andy Murdoch

Dance performance by Black Swan Dance Company Dance performance by Black Swan Dance Company in South Korea

Concordia artist and art educator Seonjeong Yi is bringing South Korea’s Blackswan Dance Company to Montreal to perform at Concordia University’s FOFA courtyard space at Concordia on June 6th and 7th in 2017.

Yi, a graduating Masters of Art Education student devoted her thesis to an education program at the Heeum "Comfort Women" Museum in Daegu, South Korea. During a 2016 research trip, at the Heeum “Comfort Women” Museum in South Korea, she connected with the Blackswan Dance Company who had created a performance about "Comfort Women.”

'The name more beautiful than flowers'

Participants' artwork showcased in Art Education Vitrine Participants' artwork showcased in Art Education Vitrine

The term “Comfort Women” is a euphemism for women drafted, deceived, sold, or abducted to serve as military sex slaves in brothels to provide “comfort” for the Japanese military during the Second World War. “Comfort Women” has since been used, always presented in quotation marks to emphasize its problematic and contradictory meaning.

The creation of their performance “The name more beautiful than flowers” was initiated by the Blackswan Company after a dancer in the company, Bunseon Kim, found a former “Comfort Women” with the same name as her who lived in the same region. She became curious about her life story.

The dance company researched the life history of Bunseon Kim with the aid of a local social activist group, the Daegu Citizen’s Forum for Halmuni (DCFH). DCHF had assisted with the living conditions of regional “Comfort Women” and archived their stories and artworks.

The dance performance was presented in street performances once a month over the last four years. All funds made from their performances have been donated to support the Heeum Museum.

'This event will link global communities together'

Art works by "Comfort Women" in ARTEspace Art works by "Comfort Women" in ARTEspace

“This event will create an opportunity to link global communities together by exchanging culture and build knowledge of socio-historical issues through art. It demonstrates how art can convey social issues and generate public pedagogy through an empathic and aesthetic experience,” says Yi.

“Ultimately, this project is to bring awareness of female human rights and sexual violence during war time, which still occurs today. Through this event, I hope people can share the stories of “Comfort Women”, and be reminded of the importance of human compassion.”

Seonjeong Yi’s exhibitions of artworks by “Comfort Women” (ArteSPACE), one survivor’s life story as visual narrative (FOFA Gallery), public participant’s artful responses (EV Junction) and public performances including conversation with artists by Black Swan Dance Company are now going on as part of the project entitled “Blooming Together.”

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