Opening on June 13, 2014 @ CAD Centre for Arts & Design
When I decided to relocate myself to Kota Kinabalu, or KK as locals call it, I didn’t expect this to happen. Working with a local community has been always my goal (if you are a frequent reader of RunawayJuno.com, you know that I’ve been longing to belong to a community lately), and it is finally happening.
One (of many) good things about KK is that everyone knows everyone. Six degrees of separation is more like three degrees of separation in KK. There is a small community of artists here: singer-song writers, visual artists, rock bands, photographers, etc. It’s a side of KK I didn’t know about. While I was looking for a place to showcase my photography, I unexpectedly met Deanna who is working at a local gallery called CAD Centre for Arts & Design. We scheduled a meeting with one of the directors of the gallery, SuChung, who specializes in high-quality photo printing. What a small world KK is. Everything happened fast – I needed to prepare a proposal for the exhibition, if I wanted to make it happen.
My first solo photo exhibition, what should it be? It should be about me, and photography as my outlet for emotion and gratitude for this world.
I grew up in Korea, a small country with a homogeneous culture. The word Korean encompasses everything: country, people, culture, cuisine, language, and so on. Koreans are known for their conservative traditions and long and complex history. While I was growing up, I couldn’t wait to get out after I found out about this wild world, so I did. I traveled non-stop for the last three years to 30+ countries, and encountered many different cultures, customs, and races. People often ask why I travel. I love finding similarities and differences between my own culture and others. It was surprising to see similar mindsets and lifestyles in countries on the other side of the globe. I thought I was (Koreans were) isolated and different, but it turns out we are all the same. We just do the same things differently. During this process I found deep respect for others who are living with their traditions. Traditional clothes, foods, lifestyle, and so on. At the same time, I found a new respect for my own culture. I now appreciate that I have a different background even more, that I grew up ing such a homogenous culture in a country with a 5,000-year-old history, and I know exactly what my culture is. I’m proud to be Korean. Sometimes you have to go away to see things at home clearly, and that’s what happened to me.
The exhibition is a set of photos from around the world. I will showcase cultures and people I met during my (on-going) journey of finding myself and my happiness, the people who inspired me to appreciate life, and the landscape that empowered me. The main locations of the photographs are Alaska, Namibia, India, and a few others. It took me a long time to select some of the finest and most meaningful photos of my recent travels, but finally all my photos are at ProArt, waiting to be printed.
Photography has been one of the few outlets I have to express my emotions. I am much better at it now, but I was very much a reserved person until a few years ago, because of my culture, because how I grew up, or maybe just because. Photography was one of the only ways to express my feelings. I have a surprisingly delicate heart underneath my strong appearance, and I have been able to nurture this side of me with my camera. I also used to think that I was so fortunate to be passionate about photography, because it balances my science-leaning and highly logical brain. It is a healing process, and what allows me to be a passionate person.
Exhibition. Wow. It’s going to be great. I’m nervous about the critics, but I hope the audience can feel what I want to show.
Thanks to CAD Centre for Arts & Design and ProArt for your support. Let’s tell some stories!
If you are in KK, please come out and see my work – and buy my photos! 🙂
CAD Centre for Arts & Design
No. 1 & 3, Block 6 MDR, Jalan Pelabuhan, Tanjung Lipat
88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
#photo of me at CAD Centre for Arts & Design by Stephen Bugno.