• Ideas
  • Oct 08, 2018

Reading Between the Lines: Interview with Sara Sejin Chang

Portrait of SARA SEJIN CHANG (Sara van der Heide). All images courtesy the artist.

From December 11, 2015 to April 10, 2016 South Korean-born, Amsterdam- and Brussels-based artist Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide) reconceptualized the German Information Library in Guangzhou (Deutsche Informationsbibliothek Guangzhou) as the _German Library Pyongyang_ (2015– ), after an ambitious Goethe-Institut project sponsored by the German government that had taken place in the North Korean capital between 2004 and 2009. With its own history in mind, the German government had believed that it could provide an example for the possible reunification of the Korean peninsula. The Goethe-Institut’s library in Pyongyang included academic literature related to science, technology and medicine (at the request of the North Koreans) as well as canonical works of German culture (at the insistence of the German government). Chang’s imaginative transformation of the existing German Library in China featured an exhibition of works by international artists and a day-long seminar program including a reading, lecture, and cooking performance. The underlying question for the artist was whether a library—and culture more broadly—can promote peaceful relations between the divided Koreas.