Discussion for the Presentation on "International Artist residencies in Hangar"

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Discussion for the Presentation on
"International Artist residencies in Hangar"

Mi-Jin Kim, Artistic Director of the Exhibition at Seoul Arts Center
and Professor in the Arts Graduate School of Hongik University
In this current era, the development of globalization and the information society has condensed the time and distance in global culture and generating a unified community. In order to ensure the growth of culture, we are implementing the shared practice of developing a global culture by vitally interacting with not only artists from within one’s own country but around the world. In this vein, young and experimental artists have moved beyond large-scale exhibitions into art creation space programs, where they embrace unfamiliar spaces and social environments, mutually influencing each others’artistic work while broadening their own creative work, thus ultimately making important contributions to the expansion of art and culture.
In Korea, private institutions such as Ssamziehave led the way in experimentation and originality in programming and have had a large impact on the development of the fine arts, and during the past few years, many residency programs centered on national institutions have emerged in Goyang, Changdong, Nanji-do, etc., building the foundation for the development of culture.
Young artists in Korea have become exposed to various opportunities for creation and communication, from creative spaces for art to galleries with seminars and open studios which combine exhibitions and the participation of critics that provide opportunities to contact the art market, as well as educational programs that allow artists to interact with the regional society and the international society.In particular, beginning this year the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture is conducting a research of the residency programs conducted by various countries around the world, and based upon the analysis of the operations of other spaces over the past 10 years, they have developed programs that bring into relief the features of the local space while supporting the creative work spheres of artists as much as possible, initiating such programs at the Seogyo-dong administrative office, the Nam San Drama Creative Center, Seoul Art Space Geumcheon, Seoul Art Space Mullae, etc. We look forward to seeing such spaces constantly develop through niche-culture strategies that seek out and utilize local idle spaces.
After reading the Hangar presentation manuscript, I would like to first address some questions about areas in which this case differs from Korea’s. First of all, Hangar, which has been established and operated by a private foundation called the Catalunya Visual Arts Association, is receiving public support funds from various institutions including the government, the municipal assembly, the Spanish cultural department, the international aid development agency, the Barcelona regional council, and the Sibadel bank foundation, and I would like to ask whether such support has proceeded smoothly and consistently each year. In the case of Korea, each year support funds change depending on the scale of the budget and the level of comprehension of the administrative leaders when public funds from the national government or local self-government entities are input into private foundations, leading to many difficulties due to unpredictability and the complicated administrative procedures requiring many documents in order to receive the funds. Especially in the artistic fields, even when the level of social contribution is high, in reality is very difficult to receive the full funding budget. For example, in the case of Ssamzie, although it is operated by a private company, I have been informed that its programs have been discontinued due to budgetary difficulties. Other than this, only spaces such as the Youngeun art gallery have received support, while it is still difficult to expect budgets for other activities including the maintenance of space and the operation of various programs.
Also, it is stated that 5 visual arts members form a group to contribute to the aesthetics of arts management, and I would like to know how these members are selected and whether their 2 year term is an appropriate length of time. For example, the building of just one single superior feature such as the Munster sculpture project can be regarded as the long-term outcome of the 30 years that Caspar Koenig served as the director. By contrast, there are many cases such as in Korea, where every time a program is planned new consultants are designated, and though this practice may be based upon the need for reflecting a variety of opinions and ensuring fairness as well as responsibility, on the other hand the consultants may serve under conditions in which they have not sufficiently grasped the unique characteristics of the space in question or the intentions of the planning, making it difficult to generate insightful planning or assessments.
In the case of international exchange programs,it was said that this was a way of providing opportunities for developing specialized work through the transmigration of artists, which is a phenomenon that characterizes our contemporary era. Due to the special circumstances of Europe, the concept of national borders is less prominent and it is common to see individual subjects moving freely within the similar and shared cultural sphere of Europe. With such migration, artists may devote themselves more intensely to the artist’s subjectivity, negotiating between the recognition of cultural difference centered on nations with differing social, historical and environmental conditions and awareness of the uniformity that arises out of the trans-border movements.
This signifies that globalism can develop into a higher level of aesthetic and intellectual art, but on the other hand, it may also lead to a uniformity and conformity that is irrelevant to the environmental changes. I think that it is for this reason that artists in Europe are taking a more aesthetic approach in the artistic vein rather than focusing on works regarding national identity. However, in the case of short-term residencies, there is a possibility that works will veer toward accepting the immediate environmental experiences of socio-political factors and focus on such phenomenon, rather than engaging maturely with such complex cultures and generating essential individualized work.
This problem touches upon a very complex field, and because it has to do with the phenomenon of our current, post-modernizing era,it requires abundant discussion and debate. This is because large-scale exhibitions such as biennales or international exhibitions that are in tandem with the globalizing process still prefer to cater to works that strongly feature nationality, rather than works of an aesthetic dimension. In this respect, in the case of Hangar, I think it is very appropriate that Hangar is specializing in terms of media by limiting its support to new media that uses video and photography. Also, it has been said that in the case of young artists, they will be provided with continuous services offering consulting offices and production machinery that allow them to continue their work, and I think this will serve as a good example that illustrates a long-term vision for Korea, where we are still limited to providing studios to artists.
As my last question, I would like to know the proportion of the artists who have passed through the Hangar program that are now receiving long term consulting, and now that it has bee 10 or so years since your establishment, what influence Hangar has on the art world and the local culture.
Currently, in the case of Korea, there is a lot of activity promoting programs for young artists, and globally various residency programs have opened their doors, making it easier than every to gain international experience and entry into the art world. On the other hand, as for artists who are more established, they lie beyond the scope of such benefits, and are therefore very excluded and work under a difficult environment. We are at a point where there is an urgent need to develop continuous programs that support not only young artists but also more established and senior artists, thereby enrooting a strong foundation for cultural growth.