Karo Akpokiere. Lost Drawings exhibition
MMCA (National Museum for Modern and Contemporary Art) Residency Changdong, Seoul. 2022
Installation. 488cm x 274.5cm 
24 digital prints on 220g matt paper. 61cm x 91.5cm. 
Newspapers. 40 pages. 1000 copies. 27cm x 39cm 
Original drawings. Ink on paper. 21cm x 29.7cm. 
Exhibition photos. Yeonkeun Choi 
UNSCRIPTED BEGINNINGS. My first night in Seoul in July 2018, I lost all of my bank cards and Aufenthaltstitel (German residence permit card). The loss of these items got me agitated as I had less than 30 euros in cash and the thought of what would be if I didn’t get a visa to return to Germany in good time, booked multiple sessions on my mind. The next days, Heejung, Lisa and Mr. K from the MMCA (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art), assisted in ensuring I got a police report and my lost items, registered on the lost and found website. 

After the registration of the items, it became a daily act for me to visit the lost and found website and be on there for hours hoping to see my items registered as found. As I spent a great deal of time on the website, I came upon the idea to start drawing the lost items I found on the site and the more I drew them, the more the burden brought on by my loss dissipated. Making the drawings offered a therapeutic release from the unpleasant thoughts my loss generated and also, brought huge doses of optimism as the act not only helped in normalising the incident but, in making me grateful for what I had not lost. I also found it quite interesting observing the buying patterns and consumerist attitudes of people in and around Seoul. Purses, phones and cards featured heavily during the searches. 

In making the drawings, my intention with the project was simple — to keep making the drawings and then stop as soon as my items got registered as found on the website. Making the drawings brought to mind Adrian Piper’s “What will become of me” project and Roman Opalka’s ‘Infinity paintings’ as I could see similarities between their projects and mine in terms of their connection to time, memory and, their open, long drawn out nature with specific end dates. 

I received a visa in good time and on getting back to Germany, got replacements for all my lost items and I also, started questioning why the project should go on. Was is still necessary to make the drawings after having got replacements?, why was I still compelled to visit the lost and found site? At what point does optimism lose its value?. 

I have since found answers or rather an answer to the questions. I realise that my compulsion wasn’t connected to just being optimistic, it had to do with wanting to connect however way possible with a city and a country that I have an affinity for as being in South Korea reminded me so much of Lagos, Nigeria where I was born and raised despite the cultural differences. The drawings started as a way of dealing with loss but, now its about connecting with a culture and a place I have grown fond of and as the drawings are predominately done with a Korean brush pen, making them however inconsistently, also offers a way for me to practice using the pen. 

These drawings are alive with memories of the makers of the items, the owners who lost them and maybe searched for them and, the memories of the artist who drew them. 

— Karo Akpokiere
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