2014 Art Sonje Project #3: Walking City_Chungjeong-ro Modern
November 14 – 30, 2014
Project Space 1F Art Sonje Center
2014 Art Sonje Project #3: Walking City_Chungjeong-ro Modern
Ieggi Kim’s latest project, Walking City_Chungjeong-ro Modern, presents a collective journal of a ‘city trekker’ (flâneur) as she ventures across the vastcity landscape.
To Ieggi, this project can be seen as an extension of Mr. Gubo’s exploration of Seoul City. Mr. Gubo is the main character from Tae-Won Park’s novel, One day of a novelist Mr.Gubo. In the novel, Mr. Gubo was an advocate of ‘modernology’, which is exploring and studying the various sectors of Seoul City in the 1930’s.
In fact, the concept of ‘city trekker’ (flâneur) is not a recent phenomenon but rather has a deep rooted history of its own, both in the eastern and the western cultures. The western writers such as Baudelaire, James Joyce, and Walter Benjamin were also well known ‘flâneurs’. They are famous for trekking through the modern cities around them as they recorded their observations, thoughts, and unique experiences.
Also, one of the reasons why Ieggi conceived Walking City_Chungjeong-ro Modern as her ‘city trekker’ (flâneur) project was because of the simple fact that, ‘What better way is there to take in all the mysteries that surround us than by walking, one slow step at a time?’ Furthermore, she believes that the simple act of ‘walking’ itself is the most basic function that kick-starts human activities.
If our modern society centered around industrialization and manufacturing gave rise to the cities with their wide roads and automobiles, then perhaps it’s time for us to focus on developing cities centered around ‘human scale’ ecosystem. A city that is centered around the ‘city trekker’ (flâneur), a city that is enjoyable to walk around in, and perhaps a city that the ‘city trekker’ can communicate with, leading to a mutual understanding between the two entities?
As modern sociologists such as Henri Lefevbre had expressed, ‘we’ may be the ones who created the cities, but the cities have returned to us like a boomerang and have created ‘us’. These cities that we have created not only interfere with the quality of our daily lives but ultimately shape ‘our way of thinking’.
Accordingly, Walking City_Chungjeong-ro Modern project aims to touch upon these issues through flâneur’s daily outings and by presenting flâneur Ieggi’s experiences as she explores these territories. One of the exhibits included in this project titled, Chungjeong-ro on my way, in fact deals with these issues comprehensively through a ‘personal map’ created through exploration and city poïesis.
To Ieggi, Chungjeong-ro was the best location to personally witness the cities changing over time, especially in Seoul City. For example, the apartments there were built around 60’s through 70’s, and they have totally different physical characteristics from the enormous and closely packed apartments built around Han River in the same time period. The characteristics of Chungjeong-ro apartments contain the ‘physical evidence’ that shows the traditional 70’s appearance before the apartments took on a more modern appearance as they transitioned into the future. Therefore, these apartments add a unique ‘color’ to the Chungjeone-ro.
The exhibits such as Migeun-dong Seosomun Apt and Keumhwa Citizen Apt also reveal these unique characteristics shared by the Chungjeon-ro’s 70’s apartments. Moreover, Kyonam-dong Walkway series was personally captured by Ieggi as the changes took place through a redevelopment process over a six month period.
Ieggi is constantly preoccupied with the problem of how best to present the ‘personality or characteristics’ of the locations she is observing. For example, she often stands in front of unplanned labyrinth streets of Seoul and takes in the powerful psychological presence of the location and creates the images trusting her instincts as it was done in creating Seosomun Apt exhibit; or drops her camera and actually jumps in and becomes part of the location as in Kyonam-dong exhibit; or enlists the help of the physical movements of the dancers (video work) as in the Keumhwa Citizen Apt exhibit.
Ultimately, these fragmented and individual exhibits by Ieggi combine to allow one to witness at first hand, the modernization of a metropolis which has become the Seoul City.
Ieggi states, “I wish to invite everyone to join me in this outing as a fellow ‘city trekker’ (flâneur) so that each and everyone will be able to create their own ‘personal map’ of Seoul City to take home with them”. A flâneur out on the street is often aimless, therefore without destination. He/She walks and become free, spontaneous, lazy, peeping toms in a way, playful, and imaginative. A city just like our flâneur, wouldn’t that be interesting?
The video exhibits, Sangam-dong Digital Media City and Chungjeong-ro Woman, and a photo exhibit, Footeyes are created to reveal these carefree characteristics of the flâneur.
At this exhibition, ‘self-portraits’ of various flâneur will be presented. Ieggi wants to know, what makes one a flâneur? This is a question she cannot avoid. For her, a flâneur is someone who has the sensibilities of a ‘poet’. Someone with ‘kaleidoscope eyes’. Anda ‘mirror’ that reflects the ‘infinitely changing’ landscape of the cities. The images reflected in the mirror are from the outside, but they also belong to the flâneur.
The flâneur’s consciousness is pointed outwards, but as the act of ‘walking’ affects one’s body, the consciousness is also pointed inwards. The turtle that accompanies the flâneur does not only symbolize the flâneur, it is also her/his companion as presented in the Turtle Me exhibit.
As one get closer to the images and also stay far away from them, the flâneur will be able to find the physical, spiritual and accumulated items hidden within the cities. The unique features found and experienced this way will be presented through photos, videos, texts, exhibits and performances at this exhibition. Through this multi-media presentation, Ieggi hopes to titillate the conscious and subconscious emotions of the future flâneur.
About the artist
Ieggi Kim, born 1965. She studied Oriental Painting in Korea and received her doctoral degree majoring in Aesthetics in Paris France. She is currently living and working in Seoul, Korea.
About Art Sonje Project Space
Newly inaugurated in the latter half of year 2014 on the ground floor space of the museum after its renovation, “Art Sonje Project Space” is a platform for temporary and free artistic endeavors. To replace the museum’s commercial facilities such as cafe and restaurant with an expansion of education and project space, Art Sonje Center invited an architectural project to transform its ground floor public space. While succeeding the spirit of the “Art Sonje Lounge Project (2009-2014)”, more emphasis has been put on the openness of the space and introduction of various programs, such as talks and workshops.
Art Sonje Center
Seoul Museum of Art