[Discussion 1]

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Discussion 1
Hyun-Mee Yang, Dept. of Culture & Art Management, Sangmyung University
Seoul Art Space_ Geumcheon is one of the eight art studios run by Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture. The Seoul Metropolitan Government is striving to boost the local economy through culture by building art studios in relatively underdeveloped areas. The art factory, which was originally a printing factory, aims to be an ‘international art space which embodies glocal aesthetics.’
The Cheonggye-cheon restoration project was the first stepping stone for the Seoul Metropolitan Government to recognize the value of revitalizing the local economy through culture. Not a few cultural experts are critical of the project but it is undeniable that the Cheonggye-cheon restoration project has transformed the streets which were in the center of Seoul, but were otherwise desolate, into tourist spots.
The effect was generated by the restoration project inspired the mayor, who was elected four times by popular vote, to focus on ‘culturenomics(culture + economics)’. The term refers to cultural and city redevelopment policies which focus on the economic, social, and cultural impact that culture will have on city renovation. What critically combined culture and the city wasthe public design and policy of remodeling existing spaces through culture. Thanks to these policies, obscure alleys and spaces in Seoul, which had been disorganized due to urban sprawl, have received a facelift and have been beautified, and programs filled with artistic creativity and vitality have taken root.
It is the first time in history that culture and art have played such a pivotal role in a city administration. The usual course of events saw shanty towns eliminated by bulldozers and high-rise apartment buildings built in the process of city renewal. Therefore, the culturenomics of
Seoul was a fairly advanced policy compared to the city policies of the past which repeated demolition and construction. Culturenomics employed by the Seoul Metropolitan Government was an example which showed that city renewal through culture is possible as it is in the western world.
During the Seoul mayoral re-election race, however, Seoul’s culturenomics project did not seem to receive a favorable review. The gist of opinions critical of the project was that the project gave so much importance to exterior remodeling that the city was squandering tax money on expensive street lights and blocks. The point being made is that the city looks good but is not more convenient to live in.
Then can community arts be an alternative to overcome the limits of the Seoul Metropolitan Government policies?
According to the matrix of community arts classified by Pascal Gielen, public design projects or rules on art decoration of architecture of the Seoul City Government belong to digestive auto-relational art. The examples of digestive allo-relational art are the Art in City project of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the City Gallery project, and the Culture & Art Education project for the disadvantaged currently run by the Seoul City Government.
It is, however, not easy to find an example of subversive auto-relational art or subversive allo-relational art in the cultural policies of the Seoul City Government. Subversive auto-relational art may have been performed in museums or concert halls but its impact does not seem to have been large enough for ordinary citizens to realize. One example of subversive allo-relational art is the candlelight vigils held in the Seoul City Hall Plaza that the Seoul City Government did not politically tolerate. This shows that the foundations for the creation of community arts are very weak.
Can the program Animating Democracy, introduced by Pam Korza, also work in Korea? Can the public sector support such a project? Is there a leader in Korean society who can politically tolerate that society takes up uncomfortable issues of communities? The condition should be attached that any activities on issues are not to create a politically sensitive situation. Are there artists who have such capacity? This is a question that is difficult to answer positively.
Seoul Art Space_ Geumcheon, however, can be a good test bed for the community arts, because it can at least provide a ground for subversive auto-relational art. That, of course, is only applied to the art circle. Seoul Art Space_ Geumcheon, however, will enable communication with
the community, intervention into issues of the community, further participation from citizens and training to encourage discussion. Only when this is realized, will Seoul be reborn as a place to live through culture and not merely a place to see.