THE OTHER NORTH
The Other North was commissioned by Artsonje Center, Seoul and CCA Derry. The work developed from Jones’ research into archival footage of Northern Ireland during the period referred to as The Troubles, between the late 1960s and the mid-1990s, combined with research visits to South Korea and in particular the DMZ, Korean Demilitarised Zone.
Emerging from research into boarder territory as an archetype between North and South, her film focuses on the re-enactment of a ‘conflict resolution therapy session’ held by American psychologist Carl Rogers in the early 1970s. In particular, an experimental therapy session called The Steel Shutter that aimed to bring together individuals from various political and socio-economic backgrounds in Northern Ireland. Roger’s theory was that historical conflict could be collectively resolved through open communication and empathy for the other. However It was rejected by both sides of the community for being politically naïve and idealistic at the time. Jones re-stages the event in contemporary Korea to explore the shared psychic effect of a perceived sense of North as other to the Self.
The Other North uses transcripts of the therapy sessions as verbatim scripts that are adapted to Korean, and staged using the aesthetics of Han to connect deep-rooted, shared experiences of historical trauma and post-colonial condition that connect both the culture of Ireland and Korea. The script is performed by eleven Korean actors seated in a circle, and filmed through a constantly rotating camera at the centre.
Their stories focus on daily experiences of conflict as a lived reality, rather than on ideologies and dogma. They are real people trapped in crisis of history that they are desperately trying to escape, but there is a looming psychic boarder that seems to mirror the psychological boarder zone itself. The film’s constantly shifting visual style means the viewer is denied one single viewpoint and is in constant motion between the film’s subjects. The Other North provides an opportunity to consider the effects of cultural, political, and national divisions, and their influence on individuals beyond geographical and political borders through different historical and cultural perspectives.