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Likeness and Legacy in Korean Portraiture

High School Uni-Face: Girl
1997, by Do Ho Suh (Korean, b. 1962)
Chromogenic print.

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Purchase—funds provided by the Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries.
Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul.
Photograph © Do Ho Suh.

Do Ho Suh digitally compiled and overlapped sixty-four photographs of his classmates for the work High School Uni-Face: Boy. He applied the same method for High School Uni-Face: Girl. Before the 1983 abolition of school uniforms in Korea, schoolboys and girls were required to wear uniforms, and their hairstyles were also strictly regulated. Overlapping the images of individuals in the same uniforms with similar hairstyles, the artist attempts to create an image of a single typical or “uniform” student. By using the example of students in late twentieth-century Korea, when the artist himself was a high school student, he explores the fate of an individual self in a larger group or society. The two large-scale photographs evoke a state in which individual characteristics and identities are sometimes effaced by social systems or even dominated by collectivities, especially in twentiethcentury Korea, where Confucian ideals, such as brotherhood and loyalty, were still imposed on individuals.