Korean Shamanism – betwixt & between
Korean Shamanism – betwixt & between (2010-2018) is shot in the urban suburbs of the major South Korean cities of Seoul, Incheon, and Daegu. It presents images of Shamans that came as refugees after the Korean War and imported the Hwanghaedo-tradition from North Korea to South Korea. The ecstatic and wild ritual practice survived since many refugees perceived this traditional belief as part of their culture and identity. Among the several regional shamanism traditions practiced in South Korea today, Hwanghaedo shamanism is widely acknowledged as the one that retains the spiritual essence of Korean shamanism’s belief and practice. The photos show Korean shamans of the Hwanghaedo-tradition in liminal moments; Periods in which they experience ecstasy and trance, from seeking contact with spiritual entities or are possessed by gods, spirits or ancestors. They are in an intermediate position “betwixt and between”. Schlottmann’s vision is to use photography to express something otherwise invisible. The belief in a spiritual world still helps many Koreans in South Korea to cope with the problems and challenges of the present, aiding a certain resilience in crisis situations. The power of visualization seems to help where words fail.
Dirk Schlottmann (b. 1968) is a German social anthropologist and photographer. He was a visiting professor at Konkuk University’s Global Campus in South Korea from 2008 to 2010, and a visiting professor at the Korea National University of Education from 2010 to 2017. In 2017, he returned to Germany and founded the Institute for Korean Shamanism in Berlin. He currently works as a photographer and culture teacher in Berlin. Schlottmann has conducted fieldwork and research in Asia, Africa and Europe. His interests range from the very specific investigation of spirituality and ritual theory, to researching cultural development and change in modernity. Korean Shamanism – betwixt and between is a long-term project, on-going since the beginning of the Millennium. The goal of the project is to give an impression of ecstatic rituals, modern belief in traditional ceremonies with elements of trance and shamanic practices.
Schlottmann has shown his work in the multimedia performance transitions & fractures at Atelier für Photographie, Berlin, Germany (2021), the group exhibition “transitions” at Peinture Fraîche in Brussels, Belgium (2020), the group exhibition monochrome at the Blank Wall Gallery, Athens, Greece (2020), the solo exhibition, liminality, at the Art-Performance Festival Ungemütlich VI in Berlin, Germany (2019), the solo exhibition 굿 – Korean shamanic rituals in the Fotogalerie Friedrichshain, Berlin, Germany (2019), the solo exhibition Koreanischer Schamanismus – betwixt & between at the Atelier für Photographie – Festival Monat der Fotografie OFF Berlin 2018, Berlin/Germany (2018), the group exhibition Unexpected at the PH21 Gallery, Budapest, Hungary (2018) and in the solo exhibition Korean shamanism – betwixt and between,‘ at the Suwon International Photo Festival, South Korea (2016).