2013 Community & Research Projects_Here, There and Everywhere

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Seoul Art Space_Geumcheon
2013 Community & Research Projects

Here, There and Everywhere

The Reaction of Art to Urban Life

Period: 2013.11.20 ~ 2013.12.10
Opening Performence: 2013.11.20. 6pm.
1) KKHH_Strangers Unknown
2) Taey Iohe with Whang, Bo Ryung_Flux of Sleepings
3) Romy Achituv_Jogakbo
4) Andeath_Useless goods, Inc. Public shareholders recruitment
Artists : KKHH, Geumcheon Mrs., Taey Iohe, Romy Achituv, Andeath, Wu, Chi-Yu (吳其育), Jeamin Cha, Paul Yore with Devon Ackermann, Moo Kwon Han
Curator: Tonghyun Yu
Assistant: Min Lee 

<Strangers Unknown>
Workshop Documents, variable size, 2013
The workshop for <Strangers Unknown> was about vividly exposing one’s own behavior pattern through ordinary movements by walking or approaching towards (or withdrawing from) each other. It is because such movements are a complex product of different psychological elements such as the minimal standard needed to oneself, concern for others, and pressure to react properly to the expectation of other people. The uneasy bodily movements of participants rather become an apparatus to make them aware of the movement of others and react.
Moving one’s body then becomes an unconscious alternative to find a point of consent which cannot be solved through words. Individuals sometimes feel a sense of loss or a sense of regret during the process. Such points of consent, which occur with a certain degree of contingency, do not fully satisfy anyone indeed. We capture the ways of operation from the participants’ bodily movements, reconstructing them as a performance. In the end, what we realize is to experiment with how the network of relations with the others is constructed, doubt the points of consent produced by communities that are formed through such a process, and try to add new attempts from ordinary movements.

Geumcheon Mrs.
<Come In, Please>
mixed media, variable size, 2013
Come in, come in. It was the start of <Pop Art in America, Bap Art in Geumcheon.> What is Bap(steamed rice) Art? It’s to talk with artists in Geumcheon residency studio. Why are you doing this Bap Art? To talk through art. Art is not only for those who want to become artists.

Art is for everyone. One can get energy for his life or learn the language of communication through art. Our everyday lives can be art. Or it might not be so since one should realize it by himself or herself. There is a need for open the door. It is not easy to encounter artists in one’s everyday life and enter their space.

In addition, to talk with artists can be a special occasion. So, the residents living near Seoul Art Space Geumcheon and people who live in the district are given a very good circumstance. They can meet art and play with art as Geumcheon Mrs. Did! So, people ask, "Are you not doing Bap Art again?"

Taey lohe
<The Community of Proximate Sleep>
video installation, variable size ,2013

 Does this city sleep enough? Or do the people of the city awake enough from their deep sleep? ‘The Community of Proximate Sleep’ is a video installation and ‘Flux of Sleepings’ is a performance of sleeping rhythm and movement of different people. These spaces work to remind people of their sleep during everyday life in a 24-hour-day constant capital city life Seoul. Sleeping foregrounds the pause and rest before awakening; awaking to the voice of the mundane flow of life, and awaking from untranslated desire from the sleepless city that we live in.
The video installation is documentation from the Anyangcheon, which is a tributary of the Han river. There is a river crossing near Geumcheon on the outskirts of Seoul. A number of rivers pass through the city landscape, as it modernises in the name of landscaping, gentrification, and sanitising urban life. ‘The Community of Proximate Sleep’ explores the experience, politics and poetics of sleep and sleepers emplaced in the city, which manifests a right to rest and stop.

Romy Achituv
dyed husk experiments and traditional Jogakbo design. variable size,2013
<Jogakbo> is a participatory project and multimedia installation exploring changes that have taken place in the Korean family structure as a result of the rapid transformation and Westernization of Korean society over the past few decades. Data about these changes will be gleaned from media and academic sources, and interviews with project participants.
The participants, older residents of Seoul’s Geumcheon district, will be additionally engaged in bleaching and dyeing rice husk in traditional Korean fabric colors. Rice husk, a worthless byproduct of grain processing, evokes the leftover pieces of fabric used in making traditional Jogakbo patchwork. In the installationperformance, the dyed husk will be utilized to create a large scale, Jogakbo-inspired, physical installation. The installation will consist of a stretched canvas, and an array of suction motors that will hold the husk in place.
The impermanent and precarious nature of the installation and the symbolic resonance of the dyed rice husk, allude to the fragile fabric of Korean tradition, and to the active engagement that is required for its sustainability and survival. The Jogakbo pattern may be designed as a visualization of data collected in the course of the project.

<Useless goods, Inc.>
Surviving Objects - mixed media, variable size, 2013
There are things that are everywhere and known to everyone while nobody knows who has made them. I would call those objects 'Surviving Objects'. They can also be called Korean Standard since one can find them only in Korea. Such objects are not the creations of specific designers. Rather, they are the ones that survived after the process of selection by consumers, duplication and production in the market. Such a process is very similar to the process of mutation in a natural ecosystem where a superior species survives.
One particular feature is that the objects are embedded with a sentiment, which can be regarded as Korean, during the process of mutation. Considering that shared objects reflect the collective taste of social groups, one might discover Korean genome of color sensitivity through Surviving Object.
However, the trend of recent few years show the diminishing presence of colors in everyday products. Under the irresistible global trend of minimalism in every field of art encompassing visual art, music, architecture, etc., How long would Surviving Objects survive? <Useless goods, Inc.> would like to put a respirator onto them, or extend their lives by giving them a facelift for sometime. I would become a invisible hand that disturbs the world of objects.

Wu, Chi-Yu (吳其育)
<Bring something back>
video installation, variable size, 2013
“If you don’t want to bring “somebody” back to your home, don’t pick up anything in the wild.” People in Taiwan says,
A megacity such as Seoul, it’ s a world totally belonged to human, buildings and crowds are everywhere. I want to find something exists normally. They come here everyday, and someday they disappear automatically: things are like the flowing of rivers, the falling of leaves, and any kind of junk left behind the street.
I am especially interested in the environment of riversthey might be the best place to touch the nature in Seoul. The cycle-way and gardens was located at the banks of the rivers, many of them refined and straightened by cement, but the rivers are still filled with fishes and ducks. I was shocked because this kind of experience never happened to me before: an interesting balance between nature and artificial nature.
“If you don’t want to bring “somebody” back to your home, don’t pick up anything in the wild.” It means those things might attach objects from mystery or supernatural that you don’t understand. Therefore, I want to research something from these place, and bring them back.

Jeamin Cha
<On Strike on the Ground>
<On Strike on the Ground> handbook, Black and white, 212p, 2013
<Cromakey and Labyrinth>
<Cromakey and Labyrinth> HD video projection, colour, stereo sound, 15min, 2013
The Cable Workers’ Union is a community organized in a precarious situation - while they are employed by a major company, it is difficult to contact each other or mingle together - that labour should be divided into segmented sectors. <On Strike on Ground>, a handbook including interviews with the members of the union, is going to be distributed to approximately 500 non-regular cable workers. This handbook is not an art practice of visual art that embodies expressions and rhetoric.
Rather, it is more of a book of social and cultural studies. To carry out the personal meaning of solidarity, this handbook takes on a role of practical medium, spreading each individual's stance that has nothing to do with moral or mutual consensus. While
<On Strike on Ground> provides benefit to the subject of this research project, the accompanied video work <Chroma Key and Labyrinth> targets audiences who come to the exhibition venue. In this work, a member of the union performs on-site manual labour and gestures the same process that is removed with the labour value. Metaphor of a hand can be thought of as an extremely alienated world of labour.
At the same time, it is sanctified under the name of expert or artisan. Such drastic abstraction, which is extremely opposite apart, blocks concrete sensibility for labour. To recover the possibility of the numbed sensibility and against to the abstraction, this video work shows segmented arrangements and departmentalized manual labour through camera movements and Chroma Key technique.

Paul Yore with Devon Ackermann
Mixed Media, variable size, 2013
Inspired by the sickly-sweet excess, playful performativity, androgyny and post-apocalyptic sensibilities synonymous with Korean pop culture, <Nothing is Real> is an open-ended kinetic sculptural, sound and video installation that also delves into themes concerning the instability of industrialization. Comprising disparate interconnected components, the installation relates to a research project examining Seoul as a physical, socio-political and historical environment.
Sourcing a variety of materials locally from the immediate surroundings of Seoul ArtspaceGuemcheon, a revaluation of notions of waste and salvage informs the material aspect of this investigative methodology, whilst concepts relating to the fragility and vulnerability of humans within the highly developed context are expounded more subliminally.
Constructed in situ, the form will assume a fusion of architectural foundations corresponding to industrial developments and decorative surface embellishment - reflecting our interest in the seemingly paradoxical coexistence of traditional Korean art/architecture with the infrastructure of the expanding, techno-industrial milieu of global consumer capitalism.

Moo Kwon Han
video photo, variable size, 2013
Experiencing the United Nations and European Union, I thought that a person, with his body composed of cells, resembles a cell in terms of the structure of a society. Titled <Virus>, this work draws characters by capturing the movement of people. Through that, it untiringly attempts the abstraction of language. The video captures the movement of citizens at landmarks of Seoul that include Seoul Station, Gwangmyeong
Station, Sindorim, and Gasan Digital Complex Station from above. The captured video frames are then accumulated using digital technology. Organic forms and colors of cells are produced as if they were abstract expressionist paintings, which bear the hue and details of everything. Things that are alive move:
This work is a public art project that takes on a research on communities by examining the movement of citizens through digital electronic technology; it attempts to transform each moment into art by studying the movement of individuals and their trajectory within society, ultimately reflecting on the dignity of each living organism. The work also captured the movement of fishes living in the city of Seoul, spiders living at the balcony of Seoul Art Space Geumcheon, and airplaned that flew above the building, giving them their own presence and dignity.

Here, There and Everywhere

The Reaction of Art to Urban Life
“To lead a better life / I need my love to be here / Here, making each day of the year / Changing my life / with the wave of her hand
Here, There and Everywhere - The Beatles

In 1966, the Beatles released <Revolver>. It was around the time when a gradual musical disagreement between Paul McCartney and John Lennon was emerging. <Here, There and Everywhere> is a good example of Paul McCartney’s soft and positive musical inclination, which is different from John Lennon’s cynical and rebellious musical character. The title of the exhibition for Seoul Art Space Geumcheon’s presentation of ‘2013 Community & Research Project’ is from the Beatles’ song with the same name: <Here, There and Everywhere: The Reaction of Art to Urban Life>. The title implies that there are art that looks at urban life as there love is omnipresent. Different from previous renditions of the community art project and urban problems research project of Seoul Art Space Geumcheon, this year’s programs were integrated as a single program.
From 2009 to 2012, the community art project was done with an aim to expand and share individual artistic accomplishments to and with the local community, attempting to produce communication between art and society as well as basic infrastructure for such a practice with 14 projects. Initiated in 2011, the urban problems research project has been presenting results produced by foreign artists focusing urban issues, which was done through exchanges with residency programs abroad. By integrating the two projects into a single body of programs, Seoul Art Space Geumcheon aimed to absorb advantages of each project and expand them. With stronger curatorial approach and more collaboration among artists working on community art and urban problems research, this year’s program anticipates another fruitful result from the effect of synergy.
Since the community art project of Seoul Art Space Geumcheon delved into the issue of artistic communication in the city, the current project inevitably addresses ideas of ‘city’ and ‘region in which we live.’ In fact, there are so many narratives on the city in contemporary art. Looking back at the previous projects done in Seoul Art Space Geumcheon, one can recognize the diversity of issues on the city.
Thus, the focus of the current exhibition is not to concentrate on the minute and specific theme but the artists’ take on the city. For sure, this might be from the fact that the artists could have not been able to come up with the common theme in their works. Thinking from the opposite direction, however, it is also from the fact that the artists had so diverse and fluctuating viewpoints on the city and society, and people living within them. For me, it was interesting to see the artists’ own views on ‘here and now’ of the city of Seoul through different backgrounds and keywords such as markets, shopping malls, shoppers, workers, communication, community, history, river, and the leftovers of the city. As a result, viewers can encounter and witness art works that deal with our urban lives through diverse themes and forms, as the title of the Beatles’ <Here, There and Everywhere> shows.

The In-depth Exploration of the City through Wider Artistic Spectrum

Geumcheon Mrs.’ studio, which is the first space that visitors come across at the entrance of the building on the ground floor is a space that is as open as it is accessible. Created as a result of Seoul Art Space Geumcheon’s community workshop program, Geumcheon Mrs. might be an artist group with the closest relationship with Geumcheon area. The group has been working on projects such as <Bap Art>, a communicative project in which local residents and the group communicated through steamed rice, and <Sel Cca Kkong>, a ‘free self-serving cafe’ that opens on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In the current exhibition, Geumcheon Mrs. continues such a practice with honesty and consistency by running a cafe as a part of their participation to the exhibition. Along with it, they introduce a new work on the third floor of the residency building. Titled <Come In, Please>, it is a work of art for those who have difficulties in entering the exhibition space as they did. In the work, viewers are drawn to the exhibition space upon hearing a voice that says ‘come in, please.’ However, the space is full of chairs, making it difficult for the viewers to sit on a comfortable sofa to watch a video in the inner part of the space. This work ironically shows that ordinary people need to have stronger will and eagerness when they visit exhibition spaces. Through this work, Geumcheon Mrs. conveys their wish to create and communicate with works of art that do not come out of ‘the league of their own’ but give room to have calmness in the urban life.

KKHH, a female duo group composed of Jiyun Kang and Gunhee Jang, presents <Strangers Unknown>. The work is a result of a series of workshops. In the city where countless different kinds of people live, communication exists in different forms. KKHH shows this situation through workshops and performances. Moreover, KKHH measures the result, transposing it into a pentagon-shaped balance beam (which looks a little bit strange). Through this, the artists attempts to question how networks of relations among strangers within the city and society are constructed and doubt the point of consent made by such constructed communities. The artists then try to generate a new network of relations.

Andeath has established a company through her project. While a company is a basic social unit that produces products and generates profit, one that she has established is <Useless goods, Inc>. The company is established upon the artist’s interest in ‘useless elements.’ It is itself the artist’s work, and she took notice of what she call ‘survival objects.’ They are the products that are circulated in the market, created by ‘nameless designers’: ‘blue trashcan,’ ‘red bucket,’ ‘loose-fit trousers,’ ‘red piggy bank,’ ‘green broom,’ etc. Although there products come with more refined design nowadays, the artist continues to infuse these objects ‘the dream of extending the life.’ In other words, what the artist tries to achieve is to redesign the objects to meet the need of current consumers while maintaining their original forms, creating a system for their production, circulation and promotion. The artist will recruit shareholders of her company on the opening day of the exhibition. Through this, Andeath reflects on the ambivalent value that is useless yet useful by recounting and developing the micro histories of objects that have survived through the history of the city and society.

The Sharp yet Positive Artistic View on the City
Jeamin Cha presents <Chroma Key and Labyrinth>, a video piece on cable workers who install broadband lines. During the 15 minutes of the video, the artist’s camera traces a worker who joined the labor union of precarious employees of the broadband company. In the video, Cha tries to find a possibility to enlighten the improper sensitization of labor and the threatening curtain of abstraction on labor. The artist attempts to achieve it by showing the worker’s labor on site and gestures that are emasculated with their value of labor. <On Strike on Ground>, an 80-page handbook that is accompanied with the work, is also presented as a result of the artist’s effort. Cha printed 500 copies of the handbook, and they will be distributed to union members, generating solidarity among individuals who do not share any interest or ethical sympathy.

A New York based artist Moo Kwon Han also worked at Seoul Art Space Geumcheon as a participant of the urban problems research project. <Virus> presents photographic images in which a line is created by capturing the flow of people in a shopping mall in Gasan Digital Complex. While the photographic works have connections to his previous works with the medium of video, the artist regarded individuals as cells that construct a society by applying the concept of the cell as a unit of an organism to society. At the same time, his work also shows his interest in characters and calligraphic lines, providing a unique visual shock to those who view his work. The artist also presents a video of visitors to Namhan Fortress, which is charged with his own artistic ambivalence between the figurative and abstract.

Taey Iohe, an active artist from the UK, focuses on the theme of ‘sleep in the city.’ With an interest in the language of time and space in which day and night cross and the dying recover, the artist ‘translates’ the problem of the desire to sleep and rest of the moderns in the sleepless city. The artist’s unique perspective is realized through an installation of the object of bed and a performance on the installation. Along with the installation and a performance, the artist also presents a video in which she relates a small river that goes across the city and the bed, expanding it to bear the meaning of a shelter, rest after wandering, and sleep.

Romy Ahcituv is an Israeli artist with a unique career: he has worked at Ewha Womans University and Hongik University for 7 years as a professor. The current exhibition is the first occasion in which he presents his works as a full-time artist. He presented traditional Korean landscape paintings or other painting projects using rice husk and charcoal powders through performances that incorporated the element of coincidence; for the current exhibition, the artist plans to create a painting that employs rice husk dyed with vivid color to visualize as a figure of the traditional Jogakbo. In his <Jogakbo>, the proportion and size of different colors reflect different statistical figures related to issues of family in Korea through which the artist show the change of society in Korea.

With a 2-channel video piece, the Taiwan-based artist Wu, Chi-Yu explores the city of Seoul. He tries to find objects that exist and disappear one day in the everyday life in the mega city of Seoul, which is filled with buildings and people. The artist shows a particular interest in the environment of rivers and their surroundings (in this case the citizen’s park), focusing on the harmony within the coexistence of the artificial and nature in which he finds waves of water, fallen leaves, embankments made of cement, ducks, etc.
Australian artists Paul Yore and Devon Ackermann introduce a kinetic sculpture <NOTHING IS REAL is Real> that adds onto itself through the duration of the exhibition. The work is accompanied by video and sound, drawing viewers to go through a unique aesthetic experience. Expanding through a continuous addition of objects that the artists collected in the city they have experienced, the work creates a playful ground where the coarse and splendid (or the so-called kitsch) elements of the city are combined with the artists’ unique sense of beauty.

What the current exhibition and the works of the participating artists reaffirms is the fact that the ‘city’ as an ‘organism’ has an unlimited spectrum of changes and one cannot be decisive on the city focusing only on one issue.

The artists in the current exhibition present a rich mixture of diverse issues and keywords of the city of Seoul through an artistic medium of visual art: in there lies a positive view that has both sharpness and warmth. As the lyrics of <Here, There and Everything> tell “nobody can deny that there’s something there,” nobody would be able to deny that there is something important and difficult to explain through words there at the heart of ‘art that reacts to urban life’ and that the current exhibition has revealed the very thing.
  Tonghyun Yu, Curator
Opening Hours: 10am ~ 6pm
Location: Seoul Art Space_Geumcheon