Partially Buried, 1996, explores a web of genealogical traces. In this work the artist probes the notion of sites of memory as well as site-specific work by focusing on the location of Kent, Ohio. Partially Buried references the year 1970 during which the artist Robert Smithson produced his site-specific work, Partially Buried Woodshed at Kent State University. By chance, the mother of the child in the video was also present at Kent State in May of that year, studying experimental music. In May of 1970, four students were shot while attending a rally protesting the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. “May 4, 1970” was painted on the Partially Buried Woodshed shortly afterward and the artwork took on another meaning. She also focuses on a time during which she was a child: 1970, in particular, and more generally the 1970s, as perceived from the vantage point of 1996. How do we reinterpret the past? What do we choose to remember or discard? What is inescapable?
Expanding on Partially Buried, Partially Buried Continued, 1997, focuses on the mingling of the present and the past, what is near and what is far, and what is other and what is one’s self by reflecting on the photographic medium. The film re-examines images taken during the Korean War by the character’s father, which she viewed as a child; photographs taken in Korea in Kwangju on May 18th, 1980, and photographs taken by the artist in Kwangju and Seoul in 1997. Works by the artists Robert Smithson and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, who both worked with language, location, and time, are also a recurring reference point in the film, as is the year 1970.
The complexities of how we find ourselves entangled in relationships to countries and nationalities, to locations and to time, and to ensuing identifications continue to be questioned in Partially Buried Continued.