RECYCLING: The consumer-cultural detritus of the wealthy occident yields unexpected consequences in a very different part of the world.
Neil Young
Neil Young
Young is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: April 3, 2020
The Fantastic, Waste No.4 New York, New York
Country: Finland

The Fantastic

In the wake of February’s historic Oscar sweep for Parasite, Bong Joon-ho has repeatedly reiterated that much of his early film-education was obtained via VHS tapes of mainstream Hollywood fare, viewed when he was a nerdish teenager 1980s Daegu. He was far from alone; thousands of his South Korean peers devoured such movies with the same avidity as their western cousins.

And even beyond the 38th parallel — in the Democratic People’s Republic then ruled by Kim Il-sung — the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Lee, and Arnold Schwarzenegger were, in certain quarters, household names.

This is the «hidden history» explored by acclaimed Finnish visual-artist Maija Blåfield in her new half-hour work The Fantastic. An aesthetically distinctive and consistently illuminating essay about the impact of cultural creations upon the human psyche, it draws upon from the theories of illusion and reality expounded by Bulgarian-French structuralist Tzvetan Todorov.

Her starting-point is the weird historical detail that countless tons of western consumer products were for decades transported to North Korea to be burned as waste. The vast bulk duly …

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