Have you ever thought about the way you live life? Some of you might think life is great, but others may be agonizing over whether you have really done what you truly wanted to do in life. Such thoughts can make one depressed, but at the same time, it is a great chance to ponder 'How can I live better?' Reflecting on this question, you will find meaning in life. The answer can also become evident by looking at others’ lives. The exhibition <Simply, Firmly, Gracefully> is one that focuses on life.
A poet sings to a peaceful world
Are you familiar with the poet, Park Nohae? He is a poet and labor activist, and he is currently working as a photographer. He became recognized in many circles for his poetry, which detailed the labor class pro-democracy movement in Korea. However, several years ago, he said that he would not continue to live as he had lived up to that point. He said, “I won’t live today by selling yesterday”, and he started working with relief activities in war zones around the world. His photos captured the lives of those living in troubled and depressed areas such as some parts of Africa. The exhibition presents a number of photos that will leave visitors with a strong personal message.
The exhibition <Simply, Firmly, Gracefully> is being held at Ra Café Gallery. To get to the exhibition, take Bus 400 from the Main Library of Sookmyung Women’s University to Sookmyung Women’s University Station, and from there take the Bus 1711 to Gyeongbokgung Station. Then, use a map app to get to the gallery. The entire travel time will take about 30 minutes. Gallery tickets are free, so visitors can enjoy the exhibition without the burden of having to pay an entry fee. However, after walking around the exhibition, you may want to drop by the café in the gallery afterward for coffee or tea.
The meaning of life
<Simply, Firmly, Gracefully> is an exhibition that consists of photos taken by Park Nohae. As mentioned above, his photos are usually of people living in dangerous places around the world. Therefore, all the photos in the gallery are of places that are seem so distant from civilized society. Moreover, the photos are all in black and white, so visitors can concentrate on the meaning of photos instead of being fascinated by the colors. Next to the photos are reports written by Park Nohae in both Korean and English.
The gallery has two floors, but the <Simply, Firmly, Gracefully> exhibition is being held on the second floor. The first floor is where visitors can find the café and a small shop selling essay books written by Park Nohae. Visitors enter the exhibition by walking up the staircase beside the café. As soon as visitors reach the second floor, they will see a map of the world, and on it are dots of places visited by Park Nohae. There is also a brief background blurb about Park Nohae next to the map. After reading the blurb and looking at the map, visitors enter the exhibitions and are greeted by black and white photos. The photos show people such as nomads in the meadow, a farmer working in the desert, and kids living in war zones. Every person in the photos seems poor and unsettled living in dangerous environments. However, after walking through the entire exhibition, visitors will soon realize that each of their lifestyles is more meaningful and valuable than those of modern people. Their lives, captured in the black and white photos, tell visitors how to enrich their own lives, despite struggling through difficult circumstances. One of the most impressive photos is the photo titled ‘A girl in a sugarcane field’. Right next to the photo, there is a detailed explanation of the girl in the photo. She explains how she achieves her goals with each chop to sugarcane. She says she cuts off all the bad in her life with each chop to the sugarcane. The poet presents the girl as one of the most beautiful people in the world using a knife to cut through life. While reading the explanation, this SMT reporter reflected on her own life and how she had been incorrectly using a ‘knife’ in life. After seeing every photo and reading all explanations, visitors are asked to leave a few words in the guest book. They may also purchase a photo book that consists of images of all the photos in the exhibition. Also, it is possible to join the 'Nanum’ club, a nonprofit organization founded by Park Nohae to help poor people in Korean society. To join the club and buy a photo book, visitors must take the staircase down to the lower level.
Ratings : ★★★★☆
The exhibition teaches visitors a lot about life. This reporter had constantly been agonizing over life. However, after visiting the exhibition, she found the key to living better. Each photo and its corresponding explanation are impressive and meaningful, so it is possible to learn a lot of things about life. Besides, the café on the lower floor sells several kinds of flavored coffees and teas, so this SMT reporter recommends dropping by the café before leaving. Also, the gallery is located near Gyeongbokgung, which is a great place to visit after the exhibition, too. The only minor weakness for this SMT reporter was the size of the exhibition. It would have been better if had been a bit larger using the space on the 1st floor as well. Nevertheless, the exhibition is worth visiting with its meaningful photos and powerful messages, so this SMT reporter recommends Sookmyungians to visit the exhibition.