Doctoral Students

Yunjoo Kwak
Started in

Research summary

Visual Narratives on Military Architecture – Unfinished Odyssey

The objective of this research project is to expand and problematize the notion of ‘military architecture’, particularly in the Dutch context, through my artistic practice as a filmmaker.

Kwak's approach to filmmaking is to gather documents, images and sounds that contain testimonies, memories and imagination. She aims to organize and transform these documents into a cognitive and affective argument, in order to address complex socio-political conditions. This cinematic approach to documentary practice allows for the analysis of architecture as a political event unfolding within and between countries and conditions.

The project takes as its point of departure the history of the Boost Barracks, an example of Dutch military architecture, by General August G. M. Boost (1900-1985). It reframes the entanglements of geopolitical narratives of the Netherlands, Indonesia and South Korea and excavates hidden micro-histories. The term ‘Dutch military architecture’ is used speculatively, with the aim of transgressing boundaries between history and architecture and art.

Kwak aims to investigate the function of the Boost Barracks as a materialization of ideology through excavating and narrating its histories. The buildings represent an archive of past histories as well as as an inquiry into new narratives that are demanded by the urgent conditions of our time. Can new historical narratives be shaped and can the blind spots of these histories be examined through artistic practice? How can the production of a visual biographical narrative of the Boost Barracks contribute to a better and emancipatory understanding of the legacy of military architecture? How can new critical insights be produced through the artistic means of this research, insights that challenge existing knowledge on the subject? This study aims not only to give voice to silent history, but also to examine the influential sphere of artistic research in contemporary society.



Yunjoo Kwak (1977, KR) graduated from the Dutch Art Institute/ArtEZ (MFA, 2011) in Arnhem and the Korean National University of Arts (MFA, 2008). She was an artist-in-residence at The Otolith Collective (2015) in London, and has participated in various exhibitions and screenings such as the Kuandu Biennale, Taiwan, Museum Sepuluh Nopemver, Surabaya, Rujak Center for Urban Studies, Jakarta, the Korean Cultural Center, London and Studium Generale, Amsterdam. Her major video works include 'Café Downey’s' (2013), 'A Chronicle of Plan van Gool' (2014) and 'The Defectors' (2017).

Kwak’s practice is research-based and process-oriented, with a focus on architecture, migration, history, marginality and globalization. She works across the disciplines of film, photography, lecture performance, publication and archiving. Kwak is interested in the blind spots of historical representation, and seeks ways to haunt them through her artistic practice. In the context of her PhD trajectory, Kwak aims to develop the ongoing long-term research project and body of work, 'Unfinished Odyssey' that she initiated in 2015.


Individual projects

    • Only The Ports Are Loyal To Us

      Yunjoo Kwak presents an exhibition entitled 'Only The Ports Are Loyal To Us', curated by Ayos Purwoaji, at C2O Library & Collabtive.

      C2O Library & Collabtive, Surabaya (ID)
    • Maritime Makassar Biennale 2019

      Yunjoo Kwak gives a film screening and a presentation about her film research at Makassar Biennale 2019.

      Makassar (ID)