Autumn Mountain (Akiyama)

10:16, HD Video, wood benches, 2016

During the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945) Koreans were ordered to give up their Korean names and adopt Japanese style names as part of the colonial policy of cultural assimilation.

I asked my grandmother, Young Ae Sun, who grew up in Korea under Japanese occupation if she had a Japanese name growing up. She was 87 years old when I sat with her and at the time was suffering from dementia and a stroke that limited her mobility.

Though not always coherent, I was grateful to hear her talk about her life in Korea which I knew nothing about. What I partially glimpsed was a struggle between language, memory, corporeal deterioration and the narratives of nations but also great gentleness and humor. She would pass a little over a year after I filmed her.

Autumn Mountain (Installation View) | Experimental Gallery at Cornell University