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Artists-in-residence researches urban issues

2011/12/03 | 342 views |  | Permalink | Source

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Kazuya Takagawa's "Narratives of One Object" on display at "Reflections of an Outsider on 'Outsiders'" in Seoul Art Space Geumcheon in Doksan-dong, Seoul / Courtesy of Seoul Art Space Geumcheon
By Kwon Mee-yo

Eight artists present their perspective on city and urban life at the "Reflections of an Outsider on Outsiders" exhibition, which will continue through Dec. 13 at Seoul Art Space Geumcheon in Doksan-dong.

The title of the exhibit comes from a 1971 article of the same name written by Gregory Pai and published in the Journal of the Korean Urban Management Association.

Instead of displaying cliches of urbanity such as photos of apartment complexes and landscapes of the city seen from a road, the exhibition looks into social and cultural issues.

Seoul Art Space Geumcheon was a printing factory, but reborn as an artists' residence with 19 studios and five rooms. The institute exchanges artists with overseas organizations including Arts Chiyoda 3331 in Tokyo, Japan; RuangRupa in Jakarta, Indonesia; Gertrude Contemporary in Melbourne, Australia; and Hangar in Barcelona, Spain.

"We had set the theme of urban research and asked the institutes to send us artists who have researched city issues", Seoul Art Space Geumcheon manager Kim Hee-young said. "Interestingly, most of them inquired into the labor issues in Korea, including migrant workers; and resistance to the logic of development".

Most foreign artists stay in Geumcheon for three months due to their visa status. For them, it is an exotic experience with artists from all over the world, while Seoulites can peek into the work of young, international artists.

Outsider's reflection

In addition to six foreign artists and groups, two Korean artists Im Heung-soon and Listen to the City have joined the exhibition.

Vicente Vazquez and Usue Arrieta of Weare-QQ presented "Going in Cycles", featuring small screens showing video clips of bicycle racers and other objects related to cycling. The duo is very interested in the relationship between sports and modernity and researched cycling in Europe as well. "The development of cycling and a velodrome is built on modernity and it is interesting to study how sports build the identity of a city or country", Arrieta said.

Japanese artist Kazuya Takagawa's "Narratives of One Object" is a metaphor for labor, work and art. He paid 30,000 won to 20 laborers near Doksan-dong and asked them to tell what they could do with a certain object he provided ― a broken PlayStation console. The video and the object are on display on the first floor.

MG Pringgotono of Indonesia created an installation "82:82 Never Enough", which refers to Korean's "ppali-ppali", or hurrying culture, while another Indonesian artist Julia Sarisetiati developed a web platform for Indonesian immigrant workers in Korea.

Alex Martinis Roe's "Collective Biographies" is about women's work for democracy in Korea, including the former Hanjin Heavy worker Kim Jin-sook's protest on a 35-meter crane; while Ash Keating presented "Zi Namsan +", a public contemporary art installation on an existing construction site.

Listen to the City's "Rivers Become Cities" shows how development projects changed the Han River in the 1960s and what is happening in the Four River Restoration Project.

Im's "Very Private Museum 3" looks into the people related to the female labor movement in Guro industrial complex in the 1980s, including former lawmaker Sim Sang-jung, who dressed up as a factory worker to ignite the labor movement. His work is closely related to the site of Seoul Art Space Geumcheon, a former factory building located amid an industrial area.

"People might have negative impression of these female labor agitators, but they were rather brave", Im said.

A woman featured in Im's video came to the opening of the exhibition, too. She seemed a bit awkward, but excited to be a part of contemporary art. "Why do you record video clips and collect artifacts? You said you studied art", she asked Im.

He answered, "These days, artists do not only draw or paint, but they make videos and installations like this as well".

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