Combing Peace

Elrea Song, Korea

Elrea Song, Korea

Elrea Song, born 1984, lives in Daejeon, South Korea, with her family and three nieces. They are all engaged in collecting waste along the coast. With her photographs, writes Song, she tries to demonstrate solidarity with people and nature. Song studied Visual Communication Design at the College of Arts. Outside Korea her work has been shown in the USA and in Italy and has earned her an Award for Future Artists.

Trash, waste. Not the only thing that gets swept into the seas. Human biographies, too, disappear in the nowhere, stories end up on a waste heap, achievements of a lifetime are forgotten, fates fade into eternal darkness. It is wars that do that, natural disasters. But also just the human trait of carelessness. The capacity to suppress what threatens life on our planet.

How to remind us of it in order to change it? How to reclaim what has been swept away? South Korean photographer Elrea Song aka Jiyeon Lee has asked children to take something back from the flotsam of the seas that compresses the fragile relations between humans and nature, between lifestyle and nature consumption into poetically crazy images. Joyful and sad, alarming and wonderful at the same time. Thematizing the flood of plastic as well as the desired welcome for those who seek refuge across the seas.

Peace, says Song, can only go forward, if you lend me your feet. And I lend you mine. Meaning: together. And it needs the joint hopes of us all. And the will to rescue what otherwise will be swept away. (Laudatio by Peter-Matthias Gaede)

Discover more: Shortlist 2023, Winners 2023