Discussion for the Presentation "A tenant of Culture; administration of the international residency (SMART Project Space) and roles of producers/curators"

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Discussion for the Presentation
"A tenant of Culture; administration
of the international residency (SMART Project Space)
and roles of producers/curators"
Jin-Seok Seo, Director of the Alternative Space-LOOP
and adjunct professor at Kyungwon University
The 21th Century and the Changing Structure of Contemporary Art
In the field of contemporary art, the circulating structure of the creation-mediation-appreciation of visual images has evolved beyond the mono-linear flow of the past, renewing itself with a variety of changes occurring in the respective functions and fields.
In the field of creation, there is an active movement toward the deconstruction and fusion of genres, and the gap between previously established artists and young up coming artists is becoming narrowed. The mediated spaces have moved beyond the standard white cube, and have emerged out into the public arenas. In virtual space, there are emerging new areas where creation and appreciation meet, and the social hierarchy between the distribution points is also gradually breaking down. The phenomenon of popularization of the art market is accelerating, and the distinction between specialists and non-specialists is becoming increasingly blurred. Art and capital is forming a closer organic relationship than any time in the past, and several art galleries have broken out of their local and regional limitations to develop into a more global corporate model.
Such dismantling of fields and the variegation of functions is all part of the social phenomenon of the 21st century. The development of digital technology and the expansion of global capitalism is fundamentally restructuring contemporary lives and cultures. The art industry is no exception, calling for new definitions and analysis of all of its fields and structures. Are the identities of the artistic genres that we have defined I the past still valid today? How are the meanings of creator, mediator and consumer of art changing? The new paradigm of the 21st century is bringing about renewed changes in the purpose and function of contemporary art institutions such as creative spaces and mediating spaces, giving rise to new demands.
The 21st Century and the New Creative Spaces
Under the influence of the neo-liberalist wave of globalization since the 1980s, the sphere of contemporary art has become unconditionally exposed to the liberal economic market of capitalism. We are well aware that this market-oriented logic is one of the major reasons that the center of power of contemporary art has shifted from artists in the early twentieth century to curators in the mid and late twentieth century and finally to collectors in the current 21st century.
The social culture of the 21st century is now encountering a new period of change. Amid this rapidly accelerating flow of change, we must not merely diagnose the present but predict the next wave of the future and present strategic directions for new art. Already, the socio-economics of the West has declared the downfall of the liberal market logic of neo-liberalism. In its stead, the logic of the Keynesian school, which places emphasis on social public values centered on the nation, is being presented as the new regime that will be the next leader of society and economics. Now government-lead cultural policies and support will become all the more important, and we are at a juncture where social public welfare is being valued more in the cultural spheres. The opening of the new Seoul Art Space Geumcheon may be very significant in this context.
Here, I would like to present some suggestions about the alternative spaces required by our current Asian contemporary art sphere within the context of the structural changes taking place in 21st century contemporary art as discussed above.
Suggestion 1 Spontaneity – Mediating spaces in the 21st century require spontaneity in administration, planning and execution. The circulation speed of the structure of production, distribution and consumption has become faster, and the rate of acceleration is increasing. The procedural work system employed by public institutions of the past was conducive to achieving a high level of completion in projects, but in the contemporary artworld where creativity is at a premium, such older institutions cannot help but fall behind other institutions in terms of trend-leading power. Art galleries of the 21st century should make up for such deficiencies with spontaneous and flexible execution of short-term and long-term projects in order to constantly maintain a vanguard position in the contemporary art sphere. This will enable us to have more opportunities to generate new trends and present them to the global art world.
Suggestion 2 Openness – Creative spaces in the 21st century require openness in its operations and its planning systems. The past practice of proceeding with projects only through the internal systems of respective institutions now present the high risk of becoming isolated from interaction with the unified global art market when such interaction is required by the 21st century contemporary art sphere. We must broaden our inclusiveness by not only relying on the operation and planning system internal to the creative studio but also forming organic external collaborations. In other words, we can establish a wider variety of bases for communication through linkage with artists and institutions from both Korea and abroad. This network-model system allows us to share the resources in the fields of production, distribution and consumption, facilitating our expansion into the wider art market and enabling us to more effectively brand our creative spaces in the global art world.
Suggestion 3 Capacity for Fusion – Creative spaces of the 21st century need to expand beyond the function of creation into the fields of distribution and marketing. By not limiting ourselves to the production of visual images and broadening our function to encompass both creation and the market, we will be able to build a functional central platform of the 21st century’s dream society that will be the generative force behind the society and economy. Also, we must attempt to merge and expand genres by building a fused spaces that includes various genres such as music, performance art, video, planar art and installation art. The cultural consumers of the present are becoming more multi-sensory and synaesthetic, and more than ever before possess variegated and in-depth cultural values. Hence the phenomenon of merging the genres is not merely driven by the intention of the producers, but is evolving in response to thedemands of the receivers of the art. We also need to direct the new discourse through not only the combination of artistic genres but also the organic collaboration with other fields such as the humanities and sciences. With multi-faceted spaces and various programming, we will be able to move beyond the simple linear function of preexisting creative spaces and evolve into the organic and complex artistic functional spacesthat are demanded by the 21st century.