Noa Im examines questions of media, memory, and reality by investigating individual histories and portraying real human stories. Her work develops dreamlike narrative elements through the use of photography, video, and installation. Born in South Korea and moving between Seoul and Toronto, Im crosses geographical and temporal borders to challenge the way people see these liminal zones and the spaces between. As a South Korean barred from travelling in North Korea, the artist uses media imagery to create imaginary perspectives and juxtapositions that convey otherworldly utopias with sinister undercurrents.
The Yalu river borderlands between North Korea and China act as a tourist attraction to some, but are inaccessible to South Koreans, who can only explore this landscape through media. In a two-channel video, Im explores the border’s dual nature, pairing an interview with a North Korean refugee who dreams of unification alongside images of tourists casually viewing the river. Im presents a sense of anxiety and foreboding in an installation of tape drawings, conjuring looming shadows and manipulated stills pulled from socialist films. By physically moving through the framework of her installation, the viewer is presented with ruminations on the media’s ability to provide access while also obscuring and abstracting.