axe murder incident
about the exhibition
‘"DMZ-2005," a month-long exhibition of works by 20 Korean and 20 foreign artists that opened on June 25 to mark the 55th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.
Organized by DMZ-Korea, a nonprofit group founded by Yu Yeon-kim, a New-York based South Korean curator, and financed primarily by the government of Kyonggi province, the artworks explore the ramifications of borders and division around the world, with special attention to Korea.
"I wanted to have artists from around the world come and see the location to discuss and question this boundary," Kim said. "I'm interested in artists having a conversation to rethink and renew the focus on these areas, politically and culturally, from different perspectives."
The Kyonggi authorities supported the exhibition as part of a larger effort to spur development in this region and encourage better inter-Korean relations, in keeping with the South's "sunshine policy" of engagement with the North.
"The DMZ is the result and symbol of confrontation, conflict, division of the country and war," said the province's governor, Sohn Hak-kyu, in an interview after the exhibit's opening ceremony.’
about the artwork
‘The Bridge of No Return’ is a small wooden bridge that crosses the demarcation line between North and South Korea in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). When prisoners of war from the Korean War chose to return to North Korea in 1953, they were told that, once they walked over this bridge, they could never return. The bridge thus became known as ‘The Bridge of No Return’. After ‘the Axe Murder incident’ in 1976, when a US soldier was killed by a group of North Korean soldiers who rushed across the bridge and killed him with the axe he was using to trim a tree that was blocking the sight of the north side, the bridge was closed.
‘The Bridge of No Return’ was pointed out, and its story told, by a US soldier to a group of 40 international artists, including Jones, during a special tour of the DMZ. The artists were in South Korea undertaking research for the exhibition DMZ 2005 curated by Yu Yeon Kim.
After hearing the story, Jones made a video installation she called “The Axe Murder Incident’ for inclusion in the exhibition on the South Korean border. This work included recordings of birdsong from Avoca in central Victoria (the site of The Avoca Project, her 15-year work on climate change) that she had taken to South Korea as a contribution to the bird sanctuary that the DMZ had famously become. This was to be the first work of The Avoca Project.
Jones brought back the audio recording of the US soldier (with Korean translation), telling the story of the DMZ border to create a work about borders in Australia. Her resulting artwork, The Bridge of No Return, was first shown at Anna Schwartz Gallery in 2008 as part of The Avoca Project.” Lyndal Jones, wall plaque for exhibition The Bridge of No Return
Photo installation of Avoca River scene with audio of soldier, DMZ Korea, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne in 2006 to accompany survey exhibition Darwin with Tears throughout ACCA