A public project by the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the Seoul Olympic Museum of Art, and the Arts Council Korea opens on September 7 and runs until October 23 at the Cheonggyecheon Plaza in Seoul, Korea. This cooperative exhibit aims to capture the dynamic and shifting spirit of Seoul where all three museums are located. Cheonggyecheon Project is the first part of the Museum Link
Exhibition by the three museums after which follows three exhibits by the respective participating museums. The exhibit emphasizes difference and diversity by accepting the museums’ distinct voices rather than trying to show their commonality in a single exhibit.
The Cheonggyecheon Project is a special exhibit designed as a communication interface between art and public, the fluid relationship amplified through the symbolic space of the city, in particular the ever-changing city of Seoul. Accordingly, the place chosen for the project is the Plaza by the Cheonggyecheon waterway, a tributary to the Han River that has much historical and political meaning for Seoul and for Korea. Cheonggyecheon used to be the center of the citizens’ everyday lives, was covered over with concrete in the 1930s, and then was newly reconstituted in 2005 as an artificial stream. The debates and often high emotions surrounding the stream’s many changes in many ways encapsulate Seoul itself, the struggle between nostalgia and modernity, its myriad reinventions of itself in its six hundred years of history as a nation’s capital.
Seoul is a rapidly growing and cosmopolitan metropolis as well as a centuries-old city that remembers its complex history. It is the seat of a kingdom that lasted 500 years, simple and restrained as a white moon vase, and it is also the roiling, brimming furnace at the center of sixty years of industrialization and modernization. Its dissonance, its discord, its discontents are what give it life. The selected artwork will be a soapbox from which are shouted the fierce emotions and overbearing convictions of a noisy, complicated, and ultimately fascinating city.
The “Itjanayo” (Korean “Itjanayo,” meaning “well,” “um,” “see,” or “by the way”) project by architect and artist Soo-in Yang will be set in the Cheonggyecheon Plaza, an old-new space that has been reinvented and renewed in many iterations much like Seoul itself. Installed in front of Claes Oldenburg’s Spring, Itjanayo
is a box of mirrors seen from the outside, but becomes a viewing and recording box from the inside, when people enter into the box and start to state their opinions. Throughout history, a plaza has been a place for airing statements of opinion, historical statements are limited by time and forgetfulness, but the statements inside Itjanayo
are recorded and replayed for others to hear. Others who subsequently enter the box can add responses to the earlier statements as though they were adding online comments.
The Cheonggyecheon Project, taking place against the backdrop of overlapping memories and images that characterize a complex city, will be an experiment on whether people can communicate through art.
The project is accompanied by the essay of Korean novelist Yeon-Su Kim whose unique viewpoint and insights have come to represent the struggles and aspirations of the oughts.
About the Artist
Soo-in Yang is an architect and artist based in Seoul and New York. Using an open-source, collaborative approach, his work ranges from handheld interfaces to urban-sized buildings. His works have received multiple international awards and have been exhibited and published widely. He is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, where he co-directs the Living Architecture Lab.