AFK | Exhibitions

Burial of This Order​

Curated by: Noa Bronstein
Gallery TPW
170 Helens Ave Toronto ON M6H 4A1
Ramp access, accessible ground-floor washroom, and clear, unobstructed pathways within the gallery. Please note that there are no automatic doors at the entrance or washroom and no designated accessible parking nearby.

For a map of Gallery TPW, click here

COVID-19 Policy

Images Festival is committed to providing an accessible festival and continues to work to reduce barriers to participation at our events. This year, we are implementing a COVID-19 policy to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission for all, and to prioritize the participation of people who are disability-identified, immunocompromised, or part of an otherwise vulnerable group.

The following guidelines will be in place: Self-Assessment: We ask that staff and participants screen themselves for COVID-19 before visiting the exhibition.

Burial of This Order operates at the intersections of funerary ritual, political protest, and carnivalesque performance. This exhibition centres on Kaisen’s titular video installation, through which the audience is invited to follow a procession of social actors who have gathered to ceremoniously bury a world order built upon hierarchy and division. The video builds towards a moment of revolutionary fervour when the procession—moving through an abandoned resort on the South Korean island of Jeju—refuses to complete the burial and instead overthrows and dismantles the scaffolding of the prevailing order so that other narratives and realities can be imagined into being.

List of works

Burial of This Order (2022). Single channel film, 25:30 min.

Sorrow Waters of this Land (2024). Single channel film, 11:11 min.

Dokkaebi (2024). Single channel film, 3:45 min.


Curatorial Essay

“Down with this great machine of destruction!” A congregation of mourners chanting in unison enacts what initially appears as a customary funerary procession. Deliberately moving through the hollows of a decaying architectural structure, the curious collective has gathered for the arduous yet essential task of burying our current order, built on hierarchy and division. The social actors called on to perform this duty—musicians, artists, poets, activists, environmentalists, and diasporic, queer, and trans people—transgress traditional ceremonial practices by subverting conventional age and gender roles, draping the coffin in dark military camouflage and replacing the portrait of the deceased, carried in the lead of the procession, with a black mirror. These reversals intimate that this ritualized performance is just that—a funeral without grievers meant to honour a different world, rather than the current order.

Kaisen’s Burial of This Order suggests that another reality is imaginable but that it requires self-scrutiny and a dismantling of the symbols and narratives that uphold a divisive world, including rampant individualism. Extending the artist’s interest in spiritual practices and collective resistance, the video is simultaneously a call to action and a poetic meditation on the dismantling of unlivable structures. Rehearsing for other possibilities, the assembly of unlikely mourners suggests that ritualized action can offer a scaffolding and shelter from which to agitate towards new imaginings. Performing and congregating through ceremony lends depth and intention to the procession’s appeal for more equitable conditions that socially, politically, and ecologically meet the challenges of our time.

Burial operates both within and outside of time, both within and outside of history. Mythical Dokkaebi deities (beings from Korean folklore) disrupt temporal registers as they slowly move and dance through the space, haunting or perhaps compelling the procession. This sense of time being uncertain is countered by the specificity of the film’s setting—an abandoned resort on Jeju Island that stands as a ruin to capitalist modernity. The building is the remnant of what was slated to be the largest resort in Jeju, but the project was left unfinished when the owning company declared bankruptcy during the IMF financial crisis of the 1990s. Situating the funeral within such a charged space locates the procession’s actions within globalized conditions of economic uncertainty, imbalance, and environmental catastrophe.

Jeju Island often appears in Kaisen’s works. The volcanic landmass is Korea’s largest island, haunted by a violent past. In 1948, responding to persistent brutalities imposed by colonizing forces and calling for unification following the partition of World War II, Jeju residents instigated an uprising, which was rapidly met with a forceful suppression campaign led by the US Army Military Government in Korea. Known as “the Jeju Massacre” or “Jeju 4.3” (marking the date of the tragedy), it is considered the largest civilian massacre in Korean history, with an estimated 30,000 killed, in addition to large parts of the Island being destroyed. Serving as an anchor and thread across Kaisen’s practice, Jeju establishes a sense of place while locating artistic inquiries within laden histories and their enduring legacies.

Just over halfway through the film, in a moment of revolutionary fervor, the group throws the coffin from a large plateau, proceeding to gather around its shattered parts. One of the mourners, longtime anti-military activist Choi Sung-hee, starts to chant “Not your offspring, Not your name, Not your grave!”, to which the procession responds: “Not our dead, Not our story, Not our lies!” Refusing to fulfill a proper burial and vocalizing their disavowal of division, the procession starts to strip off their garments and ravage the remains of the coffin, inside of which is a sochang—a long piece of fabric used in traditional funerals. As the current order starts to dissolve, the sochang undergoes a symbolic transformation, turning into what Kaisen describes as a long, serpentine umbilical cord that serves to tether together the re-assembled group as they depart towards the setting sun. Articulating their desires for transformation and disruption by way of collective emergence and rebirth, the mourners forsake the ritual burial but hold to their promise of elapsing this world order.

- Noa Bronstein

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