the kyopo project by cyjo

Kyopo Project is a series of over 200 standardized full-body portraits of kyopo (people of Korean descent that reside outside of the Korean Peninsula) from around the world, by artist CYJO (Cindy Hwang). It's sort of like a giant yearbook of the Korean diaspora, recently published by Umbrage. Here's a really cool video composite of all the portraits in 21 seconds:

And here's an official description of the project:
In modern, spare and elegant portraiture, artist Cindy Hwang (CYJO) highlights the diversity, identity and immigration of the global kyopo, those of Korean descent that reside outside of the Korean Peninsula, seven million strong. Mass emigration from Korea began in the mid-nineteenth century and accelerated during the Japanese colonial period, a time of foreign occupation that saw Koreans conscripted into forced labor. A second wave of emigrants fled beginning in the 1960's, and it is these emigrants and their children that KYOPO captures as the face of the modern Korean diaspora.

Through her singular lens, CYJO seeks to unify these people and challenge the idea of the stereotypical Korean emigre. Yet perhaps a shared ancestry is the only thing that connects kyopo. CYJO decontextualizes her subjects to emphasize a sense of forced unity, allowing their spectrum of experience to contradict the apparent sameness of identity. Juxtaposed are the graduate student, the novelist, the human rights activist, the architect. The photographs, coupled with words from kyopo themselves, challenge the idea of a monolithic, "authentic" Korean identity, while stimulating exploration and a renewed perception of what it means to be both Korean and a citizen of the world.
For those of you in the Washington D.C. area, KYOPO will be on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery as part of the the exhibition Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter, running August 12, 2011 through October 14, 2012. For more information about the Kyopo Project, go here.

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