Cheil Worldwide creates piano with strings made of barbed wire from fence marking inter-Korean border
Intended as a symbol of a divided nation, Cheil Worldwide has created a piano with strings made of barbed wire taken from the fence marking the inter-Korean border.
The strings were taken from the demilitarised zone, on the border that divides South Korea from its communist neighbours in the North.
“Piano of Unification” for the Korean Ministry of Unification Project marks the 70th anniversary of Korean liberation from Japanese occupation and will be exhibited and displayed in public. The piece is a musically themed narrative and its aim is to encourage Koreans to think about the possibility of national reunification and peace.
Chieil Worldwide worked with the Seoul Museum of Art, National Chorus of Korea and Samick Cultural Foundation on the project. The creation of the piano was down to world music group Gong Myung, who are renowned for designing and rendering creative instruments.
The Gong Myung musicians crafted the instrument using hundreds of metres of barbed wire from the frontline military camp, refining and fastening these ‘strings’ over three months. Despite its polished exterior, the piano's rusty, old strings in place of of clean-cut steel ones give out a rough and deep sound in comparison to a conventional keyboard instrument.
The final piano is being showcased alongside other art that embodies division in the lobby of the Seoul Museum of Art until 29 September - as part of an expo for the North Korea Project. Music performed with the piano as well as video footage of how it was made will be introduced in order to help visitors engage and commemorate the meaning of reunification.
Last week, the Piano of Unification was onstage for the 70th Anniversary of Liberation Chorus Festival concert performed by the National Chorus of Korea at Seoul Arts Center. The performance brought together Koreans from around the world to gather and perform.
“As it is a sound made with a symbol of division, the Piano of Unification has a significant meaning in terms of history and music,” says Koo Chun, art director of the National Chorus of Korea.
This isn’t the first time the fence’s barbed wire has been used for creative symbolism. When the Pope visited Korea in 2014, he was presented with a crown of thorns made from the wire.
Meanwhile North Korea marked Liberation Day with the idiosyncratic establishment of its own time zone – “Pyongyang Time” – aimed at rooting out the legacy of the Japanese colonial period. Pyongyang announces that it will pull back its current standard time by 30 minutes, making it GMT +8.30, rather than GMT +9. Local time in North and South Korea and Japan has been the same since Japan’s rule over what was a single Korea between 1910 and 1945.
17 August 2015
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