A leap from Apgujeong street to the operating table in 16F. A human skull lies bare of skin as a doctor severs the cheekbone. ‘Bits and Pieces’ is an eerie, visceral odyssey through Seoul, the mega-city nicknamed 'World Capital of Plastic Surgery'.
Text by Sophia Greiff (translation from German)
The bones of the lower jaw are sawed off, broken, and put back together again so that faces appear thinner. Eyes are furnished with doubled eyelid creases to look bigger, more open. Snub noses are made by removing bumps or molding the tips, and flawless, white complexions are created by bleaching the skin. The most cosmetic operations worldwide are undertaken in South Korea. In the luxury Gangnam district, Apgujeong, of the capital city Seoul, the so-called “Beauty Belt,” hundreds of beauty clinics are set up in rows. Good-looking models smile from advertisements in busses and subway trains in before-and-after images, and getting a nose job as a graduation present is par for the course.
We could inquire into the causes of this development and find answers in the country’s history or the social structures of South Korea, in the influence of the West, mass media, or K-Pop. But in “Bits & Pieces,” Hannes Wiedemann does not look at the before-and-after or the why. Instead, he focuses on the actual act of violation, the traumatic moment of surgical interference with the human body. The wounds of the city are set in visual analogy and in contrast to the damaged body parts: marks on the skin and fresh stitches are paired with convoluted fiber optic cables, rank growth, the chaos behind the shiny facades and surfaces. Free of description or assessment, Hannes Wiedemann makes these processes of alienation visible and triggers instant physical discomfort in his audiences, despite the sober, objective presentation of his photographic objects.
Greiff, Sophia: Bits and Pieces, in: In Your Face, Revolver Publishing, Berlin 2018