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Floating Dreams by Ik-Joong Kang|Courteys of the Totally Thames Festival
Floating Dreams by Ik-Joong Kang|Courteys of the Totally Thames Festival
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Floating Dreams: The Beautiful Memorial To The Korean War Drifting On The Thames

Picture of Harriet Clugston
Updated: 21 September 2016
Floating atop the river outside London’s Tate Modern Museum, Floating Dreams has been charming passers-by with its luminous, serene beauty. But there’s more than meets the eye to the three-storey-high, geometric lantern. Designed by one of South Korea’s most renowned multimedia artists, Ik-Joong Kang, this impressive, large-scale installation is a poignant memorial to the communities that suffered during the Korean War over half a century ago.

Commissioned specially for the Totally Thames Festival, Floating Dreams is constructed from 500 separate, miniature drawings, transferred onto pieces of traditional Korean rice paper by the artist and joined together into one united but heterogeneous whole. The drawings themselves are the result of the artist’s trip home to South Korea, collected from members of the generation that fled North Korea to the South during the bloody conflict of 1950-1953, while a sculpture of a small child holding a torch, stood on top of the sculpture, is symbolic of the displaced people’s recalling of earlier memories.

Floating Dreams, Ik-Joong Kang
Floating Dreams, Ik-Joong Kang | Courtesy of The Totally Thames Festival
Artist Ik Joong Kang with his installation Floating Dreams
Artist Ik Joong Kang with his installation Floating Dreams | Courtesy of the Totally Thames Festival

Now in their 80s and 90s, the war’s displaced communities are still unable to return home, divided from those that remained in the now insular northern state. Asked to depict their memories of their hometowns, the images speak to the pain of separation, the lasting sorrow of broken families, and the ongoing yearning for home.

Floating Dreams by Ik-Joong Kang
Floating Dreams by Ik-Joong Kang | Courteys of the Totally Thames Festival
Floating Dreams by Ik-Joong Kang
Floating Dreams by Ik-Joong Kang | Courtesy of the Totally Thames Festival
31.08.2016: London, UK. Floating Dreams, a major, illuminated, floating installation by Korean artist Ik Joong Kang is unveiled on the River Thames as part of Totally Thames Festival. Photo credit: Peter Macdiarmid
31.08.2016: London, UK. Floating Dreams, a major, illuminated, floating installation by Korean artist Ik Joong Kang is unveiled on the River Thames as part of Totally Thames Festival. Photo credit: Peter Macdiarmid

The mosaic of memories, both sad and joyful, brought together by Ik-Joong Kang speak too to the experiences of refugees in the contemporary world, shedding light on the pain and suffering endured by all those diasporic communities torn from their homes and left with only their memories to connect them to the places they left behind. Illuminated from within, Floating Dreams also serves as a bright beacon of hope for the future reunification of Korea, a desire the artist has frequently championed in his art.

Floating Dreams can be seen on Bankside beside the Millennium Bridge until Friday, September 30th.

Thames Embankment, London, United Kingdom