"Box IV Odonata, Dragonfly from Good-bye Paradise", 1993/2000, Liquid Light on Rice Paper

Box IV Odonata, Dragonfly from Good-bye Paradise, 1993/2000, Liquid Light on Rice Paper

Bohnchang Koo

Goodbye Paradise

Whenever I go to the museum of Natural History I sense I hidden sound echoing inside me. I strain to hear the silent cries of the stuffed insects and animals in much the same intense way as I used to sit under the sweltering sun as a child and watch the butterflies and dragonflies flutter about the branches of the trees. I fancy that the souls of these creatures- that have met such an unfortunate fate- are still floating about somewhere. For some reason I can’t make myself leave until the museum closes its doors.

On this day birds, butterflies, and frogs are disappearing from the land. Countless flowers and blades of grass are being trampled and countless trees are being felled. Animals large and small are being taken from our world. The sadness, happiness, and pain of these speechless creatures are cast aside, ignored, and the techniques of taxidermy convert their short lives into permanent exhibits for human eyes.

For a long time now I have devoted myself to what I feel and what I am conscious of – I have focused on the internal “me” to the point of tedium – and have made photographs that deal with feelings of solitude, loneliness, and hurting. I sense a similar solitude from the butterflies, birds, and trees. They are like me and I am like them. Yet their isolation is even greater, for they have no way to protect themselves from the destruction that approaches.

Recently I have felt the need to give expression to their sensibilities, and it is with them in mind that I have named this exhibit Goodbye Paradise. Let us hope that paradise will never truly disappear.

Bohnchang Koo, a native of Seoul, Korea, is a professor at the Kaywon School of Art and Design in Euiwang, Korea. His work has been exhibited in Germany, Japan, Korea, Australia, and in the states at the Ansel Adams Center for Photography, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, and at FotoFest 2000 in Houston, Texas. His work is in the collections of the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea, the Henry Buhl Collection in NYC, and the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Germany.