Dead Letter

by Kitty Drake in June 2021
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Art & design

Cultural Bulletin is a quarterly arts magazine, and this latest edition — issue E — is themed ‘identity’. Identity is a theme that has been so thoroughly dissected in independent print that this could feel boring, and it is a testament to the imagination and critical sensibility of Cultural Bulletin’s editors that this magazine is anything but.

Early on, there is a series of photographs entitled ‘Human Domination on Earth’ by Karina Castro that sets the tone. Featuring floating solar stations and estuaries, many of the images show tunnels or borders; the Great St Bernard Tunnel that links the Valais in Switzerland with the Aosta Valley in Italy; the River Sarine that partly marks the linguistic border between French-speaking Switzerland and German-speaking Switzerland. The pictures offer an unexpected and beautiful expression of the resolutely mixed nature of identity, and the arbitrary lines we draw in the attempts to simplify it.

Another wonderful series, ‘Dead Letter’, by the South Korean photographer and designer Jung Ah Hwang. The project began when Hwang started posting photographs from her family album to her old addresses (she moved very frequently as a child). Her letters were returned to her because the addresses were no longer valid, so she travelled to the places she remembered and took photographs of the construction sites and vacant lots that used to be her home. The resultant work is a curious collage of baby pictures and bare rock, conveying the time lag, as Hwang puts it, “between memory, record and reality.”

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