To the video artist Jane Jin Kaisen, who was adopted by a Danish couple when she was three months old, the Korean War casts a long shadow. "In Korean society, there are still traces of the Korean War. I wanted to know how these traces influence the Korean people today, and how they are remembered among adopted Koreans. The War was the most important reason why Korea started exporting babies," she says.
She first realized that she was different from the majority of Danish people when she was five years old. "I was on a bus with my mom and I saw a dark-skinned person. I said, 'That's a black,' and my mother replied, 'That is not a polite expression. You are different, too. You are Korean.' It was then that I realized for the first time that I was different from normal Danish people.
In adolescence, she grew increasingly confused about her identity. "I think the sense that there was nobody in my family who was like me was the most difficult to bear."
Jane made several trips to Korea and looked for her records. She notes that many adoptees have trouble finding enough to find their biological parents. There is also the issue of offending the Adoptive Parents/family. She made the decision to pursue it and was successful in a reunion.
"The first time I met my biological parents, I was happy, yet I was also sort of sad and had very complicated emotions," she says. "Usually, you think a reunited family will be able to continue to meet up, but because we'd been separated for such a long time, there is big linguistic and cultural barrier. It is extremely difficult unless you make a lot of effort."
Jane Jin Kaisen has continued to reevaluate her identity, and she states "One thing I really want to tell you is that after I met my biological parents, I felt that I am no longer the same Dane I used to be." She has been able to widened her artistic horizon and deepened her understanding of different races and cultures. She is grateful that her background has pushed her to become what she is now.
Last year Jane Jin Kaisen’s video art installation was one of the exhibits on display at GOA’L "Boarding Bridges" at Kring Creative Culture Space, which brought artists, musicians, dancers from both Korean Adoptee and Koreans who have studied abroad. Ms. Kaisen is presently living in Los Angeles, California.
“Jane Jin received her education from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, The Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in New York, and the Interdisciplinary Studio Art Program at UCLA in Los Angeles, Cal. USA. Jan Jin’s work explosed how history, memory and discouses are constucted. From a postcolonial and feminist perspective , her work is invested in understanding the complex intersections of race, class, and gender in a transnational context. Her work often makes use of multi-layered narratives and juxtapositions of presumably contrdictory material and is often informed by psychoanalysis, anthropology, and linguistics.”
1st Art Festival of International Korean Adoptees
2009.10.30 – 2009.11.01