■ Your Pots _ Heo Taewon
Period : 2011. 09. 27.(Tues) ~ 2011. 10. 07.(Fri)
Location : Geumcheon art space, Around the Doksan policebox, Beoman-no
Workforce : Artist Heo Taewon(Documentary assistant, Exhibition space keeper, etc)
Participants : about 485 people(Participants 130 people. spectators 355 people)
-Exhibition : Your Pots
2011. 09. 27.(Thes) ~ 2011. 10. 07. (Fri) 10 a.m ~ 6 p.m
/ Geumcheon art space, Araound the Doksan policebox, Beoman-no)
-Education : 2011.09.24.(Sat)/ Geumcheon art space workshop room
-Publication for promotion
Heo Taewon, Geumcheon Communal Garden Project
One day, a man points to your pot and asks: May I plant a flower here? Who is this guy, asking this weird question? What is this strange man, who introduces himself as an artist, trying to do? And your reaction is:
1) Yeah, sure. 2) Why would you do that? 3) Not interested, so go away.
Although it is left neglected, the pot is yours. To the proposal asking whether you would plant a flower there, you readily give permission, however, you throw a question with vigilance, and at times, you refuse flatly, shaking your head. At first, the artist began to plant flowers in the pots abandoned at the entrance of his neighborhood alley this way. Then it lead to communal gardening work, arriving to building communal gardens at the yards of homes, police station, and Geumcheon Art Space in Doksan-dong district. The artist encounters multiple 'you's using pots and flowers as the medium.
scene #1 Gayoung's house
Looking down at the neighborhood from the head of a hill, you can see similar-looking square shaped, two-storied rooftop houses. On the rooftops, painted in green waterproof paint, there are things like septic tanks, ventilators and drying racks. Next to them, vegetables such as chilli peppers, cucumbers, squashes, chives, water parsleys or spring onions are growing from yellow or white boxes which had been left there. These are familiar views. Views where rooftops substitute gardens and vegetable fields. Gayoung's house was also one of those houses which had built a communal garden. On Gayoung's rooftop there is a small flowerbed that is approximately 10m² where squash, strawberries, and mostly weeds were growing.
Gayoung's house is a one-storied building surrounded by tall buildings like off-campus apartments and tuna factory. If you look down from other buildings, Gayoung's house seems like a small island because it alone is short. This is why the artist had chosen Gayoung's place. The 'short island' which has placed a garden on its head recalls impartiality. To the artist's proposal asking to build a communal garden by planting flowers on the rooftop, Gayoung's family permitted with pleasure. And then it was summer. Gayoung and friends from her neighborhood come together, each of them picking their own flower plant, and plant them there. As they planted ornamental plants of various colors such as small yellow chrysanthemums, ixoras, cherry blossoms, kalanchoes and solanum pseudocapsicums and stomped the soil with gardening shovels, a colorful, decorative garden was created. On the last day, the artist and Gayoung's family ate Korean barbecue together. Gayoung asks: If you're an artist, then why are you planting flowers?
scene #2 Doksan Police Station
"What's the difference between a garden built by an artist and a flowerbed built by public institutions at rotaries and stuff?
This is a question the captain of Doksan police station had thrown towards the artist when he proposed that he wanted to build a communal garden at the flowerbed in front of the police box. The artist could not answer. Because he, too, had been asking that question through his work. For the time being, instead of giving an answer, as soon as permission had been given, the artist shows up carrying flower pots. And with policemen working at the police station and with residents who passes by everyday, he plants them on the flowerbed. As begonias, kalanchoes, solanum pseudocapsicums and cherries are planted in between cockscombs, roses and vines, the flowerbed turned fancy right away. The policemen come out everyday to water the place and the eyes of passersby rest there. As the communal garden is finished, the police captain is glad, saying, "looks good". The artist returns the same question to the captain: Do you think there's a difference between a garden made by an artist and the flowerbed made by public institutions? Captain answers: I don't see the difference.
scene #3 Geumcheon Art Space Hope Garden
The last garden is built at the small garden on the front yard of Geumcheon Art Space. This garden is made up of about 80 pots. The artist had the villagers each pick a flower plant, transplant it, and then each write their wishes on the pots. There were those who secretly left wish pots while the artist had left the site. Most of the participants were people working at various factories nearby, and they were people who occasionally dropped by for the bench to take a nap and enjoy the fresh air every lunch hours. They wrote words like "good health", "happiness" and "jackpot" on their wish pots. Phrases such as "stop beating XXX", "Let's smile" and "XX, I love you" catches the eye here and there. Each pot comes together to form a garden. The artist also puts together pots which had been abandoned at Sangsu redevelopment area among them. Those who participated in making the garden come back to Geumcheon Art Space to look at the flowers they themselves had planted. The artist hands each of them a picture taken with the pots.
Geumcheon Communal Garden Project is made up of meeting with multiple "you"s, talking together, planting flowers, building a garden and giving and receiving photographs process. In the process, the artist searched for the public role in personal spaces(Gayoung's home) or metastasized properties of space by making public spaces relate personally with people(Hope Garden) using 'garden' and 'pots' as the medium. Community is bound to be created by such metastasis of space and territories. Rather than drawing out a drama, Heo Taewon chose to record the series of process meticulously.
Flower transplanting. The transplanting process, as expected, directly shows the properties which a transplant possesses. Transplant, in other words, "to cut a living tissue or an organ from a living body and attach it onto a different part of the same entity or another entity" involves a very intricate process. When another substance comes inside the body, the living body arouses adverse reaction towards the alien substance and at times even destroys it, furthermore, our immune system is, in fact, also maintained with such exclusiveness. When we feel that there's sign of getting dragged into something we do not want, rejecting the involvement is also an immune system in relationships operating from our unconsciousness. Residents accept forming a personal relationship with public spaces, however, they also refuse to have public functions in personal spaces.
When the season changes, the garden of summer is bound to lose its color and beauty. The artist's communal garden work is also sensitively affected by time, weather and etc. As well as the flowers, community withers faster than the speed of other murals or installation structures fading or disappearing. The intimate bond, yet loose, which had formed temporarily while planting flowers, talking and giving and receiving photographs, has also turned weak when seeing each other again. And some moments of experience and exchanges can never be recorded. They are experiences which cannot be reproduced or last. The question of continuation. This is what the artist is concerned about. There is a moment when it sparkles like a flash of light but that common moment cannot last.
Another question. Heo Taewon still hasn't answered the question which the police captain had raised on 'the difference of artist's garden work and beautification business of community associations'. Instead of giving an answer, the artist preserves and mediates such doubts and questions in order not to get the question of 'not knowing' be sucked into the 'no difference' conclusion. What is more important than the answer may be to draw more radical questions from it, and to continue working with the impossibility.
Look, there is someone else's plant growing out of your pot. To keep it alive, you have to water the pot, and sometimes, he will come to water it for you. You either like or don't like the flower. Or you might just leave the flower to dry up because you don't like the intervention of his, or rather, the others.
Take a look at your empty pot.