Around 200 people working in the art industry signed the BLM Korea Arts online declaration, which calls for racial equality in South Korean art facilities.
Titled “Korean art facilities need to reflect and reform regarding the racial discrimination problem,” the online declaration was released June 15 by Korean artist Young-jun Tak, who works in Seoul and Berlin.
Tak’s body of work focuses on issues such as discrimination against LGBTQ individuals by Korean Christians, something he witnessed when he attended a Pride festival in Korea. This time, he is raising his voice against racial discrimination in the Korean art scene.
“The Korean art scene needs to take a critical stance against racial discrimination and reflect on itself. With the start of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, art museums, galleries and art press showed support by joining the cause. Meanwhile, besides the very few that did, Korean art facilities have been silent. Racial discrimination is a problem that even Korean art facilities can’t avoid,” Tak said in the declaration.
The declaration listed six points that art facilities in Korea should strive for to achieve more diverse racial representation. They include giving more opportunities to multiracial Koreans, lowering the language barrier, hiring more multiracial and cultural art facility workers, making efforts to achieve racial equality at public art facilities, avoiding focusing on white heterosexual male artists when inviting foreign artists and giving more consideration to artists’ race, culture and gender, among other factors, when adding to their collections.
“We shouldn’t stop at saying we aren’t racists but change society by raising our voice against racial discrimination. Korean society, including the art world, should reflect and reform,” said Tak.
Tak said the declaration has been sent to 14 major art facilities in Korea. Some 200 Korean artists, art critics and curators have signed the declaration so far.
“Experiencing Asians being discriminated over COVID-19, I felt a mix of emotions. We were the victims of discrimination in that case, but in other areas, we were the discriminators. When the Korean art world was silent in the face of Black Lives Matter, I felt the need to take action,” Tak told The Korea Herald.
The Black Lives Matter movement is spreading around the world, following the death late last month of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.
By Lim Jang-won (firstname.lastname@example.org