Between False Realities

Text by Inyoung Yeo

Lior Shamriz makes his third visit to Seoul Korea. An Israeli filmmaker currently based in LA (formerly based in Berlin) brings together multiple layers of form, aesthetics and content with his productions in Korea. With each visit, Shamriz created a film. Keeping within his consistent formalistic experiments of filmmaking and elements of queer, fetishism and pluralism, the three films from three visits are boldly honest in their contextual approach. He appropriates his synthesis of elements in three stages, as they evolve or devolve into masochistic strata of addictions, peeling the layers of current Korean society and its multi-faceted gender, race, sex and class issues.

Within this social discourse, Shamriz creates a narrative in three phases. On his first visit, he is an outsider, a ‘waegukin’ (‘foreigner’ in Korean, translates ‘person of other countries’). His first film, ‘Cancelled Faces’ starts with a gaze of almost fantasy-like, superficial and ‘oriental’ kitsch. A black and white melodrama of a gay love story in Korea has the mood of nouveau-noir narrative you would imagine happening somewhere in the West superimposed onto the streets of Korea. An authentic outsider’s set of eyes looking into something fresh, fantastical and foreign.

Shamriz makes his second film ‘The Cage’. He is a locater in this film. Staging the film in two locations, Korea and Taiwan, he further explores the dualities of queer identity in geographical metaphor. The dualities exist in fictional locations based on his personal historical narrative as well as on the simple and complex current definitions of ‘queer identities’ and in particular of masculinity. Surveying the unexplored closeted queer cultures of Korea with two parallel cities, Exalon and Lichtenberg, Shmriz exposes his personal history. He depicts the transformation and peripheral perspective of two points, one of cities and locations and one of himself.

In his final production on this visit, Shamriz submerges himself. He creates a film inside a film inside a film adding layers to ‘The Cage’ with an outside experience of real moments. Starring himself in the film, he is himself a director making ‘The Cage’ framed within Korea. He pushes the level of distress in segregation and confusion of homophobia, nationalism, class, race and age in Korean public. Recreating ‘real’ situations with ‘fake’ scenarios, he directly addresses and reflects on the forced state of ‘authenticity’ in the Korean society and on its manipulation.

Throughout the three films in Korea, Shamriz takes on the risk in keeping a candid approach in his position; his practice in using existing tools and spontaneity; his play with elements of homo-body, culture, compliance, negotiation, marginality and plurality on a micro level. He raises questions with his dynamic visual statements of multiple perspectives of masculinity, diversity, queerness, freedom and ethnicity.

Unmasking the multi-layered facades, his insights portray the Korean society in its blatant denial of transparent contradictions, irony of self-colonization and exploration of the Korean closet. Transitioning himself from an outsider to a locater to a submerged self throughout, the questions still remain tangled within yet they come to light.


Originally published within the Seoul Museum of Art, Nanji Residency Catalogue 2017