Boundary, boundaries: introduction
The project for this summer is on boundaries and boundary. I’ll have a page up soon about the why’s and wherefore’s of the theme; for now, this picture. This signboard blocks the portion of a second-story verandah otuside the nuns’ living quarters at a city temple in North Jeolla Province. From the moment I first saw it, a rough-cut wood “saw horse” with hand-stenciled lettering, I’ve been fascinated by the division it simultanesouly suggested and defined between inside and outside, admitted and forbidden, in the confines and context of the temple.
In Korean, the sign says, “Outsiders not permitted entry,” or, more literally, “Entry forbidden to outsiders.” Korean temples, and even more so the monastic community, tend to emphasize boundaries and limit access in surprising ways. It’s from this basic observation–that religious communities preach openness and yet practice various forms of exclusion, to various and ambivalent ends–that led me to decide to focus on the concept and practice of boundary in Korean temple and monastic communities this summer.
What’s the difference between boundaries and a boundary? Between the idea and the practice of them? What is a temple, what is a monastic community? What is the distinction between who is an outsider and who is not? What, and who, defines any and all of these? What happens when boundaries go up, what happens when they come down?
These are the questions and the curiousity behind “Boundary, boundaries.” Have a little patience: as the junior photographer on campus, I have no regular computer access, which has slowed me up considerably with the blog. A month’s worth of pictures in hand, no modem in sight.