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Art and Human Dignity
Four IB Visual Arts portraits by four FIS artists
Artist Hui Gon (self portrait) and his work, Kim Yuna (right).
Dignity is every human being’s inherent value. We are born with the right to be valued and treated ethically simply because we are human.
The yearning for dignity – to be seen, acknowledged, heard, considered, cherished, allowed time and space to feel safe, earn respect and grow – is deeply human and shared by us all. To recognize this shared desire binds us together; to ignore it is to perpetuate conflict with everyone everywhere.
Many of the works by FIS Grade 12 students shown in this year’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Visual Arts Vernissage, which was held in the Upper School’s Da Vinci wing in March, reflect the role of art as a language to expose and elevate human dignity. The four works featured here share a common thread: the natural and its mask. Each addresses a fundamental aspect of human dignity: self, gender, society and environment.
SELF DIGNITY: ‘Kim Yuna’ by Hui Gon
Hui Gon’s ‘Kim Yuna’ pays a stunning tribute to the 27-year old champion figure skater, who is also a hugely popular philanthropist, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, and the athlete chosen to light the cauldron at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. His portrait of ‘Queen Yuna,’ as she is known in South Korea, depicts her in a hyper- trained, naturally graceful pose, clad in a super- villainess black dress featuring thick dark leaves, transparencies and a cobweb. The work as a whole evokes a spider on the edge of its spin: black, delicate, still, alluring and lethal. The theme of Hui Gon’s works is an identity conflict: the masked and the natural selves. “Mask is the act of disguising the innate self,” he says, “an artificial, expected identity that one has to wear to be part of the majority.” He reflects on the ‘bitter, and uncomfortable’ consequences of the mask: the effacement of innate innocence and unique qualities. Masking to fit in is a search to be valued as an individual, which results in the loss of the self. The social mask is a lethal allure, just like the spider’s web.
GENDER DIGNITY: ‘The Most Powerful Woman in the World’ by Leah
Leah confronts viewers with society’s endless refusal to dignify the whole of being female. The idealized, masked female is gentle, prudent, polite, without own desire or sexual voice. But women are not just that, says Leah; they are also daring,
   16 FIS World June 2018

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