Tuesday, 26 June 2007
[Written last night]
I am writing this from a bed. And not just any bed: a bed designed by Donald Judd! Okay, not true. But there is a desk by Judd in a room almost directly below me. I am at the previously mentioned new diggs awarded to Power and myself for being classy curators and not dirty artist scum like Jan and Bjørn. Our locale is the Paik Hae Young Gallery in one of the posh areas above Seoul’s tourist-trap Itaewon. It’s a lovely architect-designed building from the 60s, a typical modernist white concrete house in the style of a Mediterrenean villa. I’m in a bed. I guess I must’ve spent more than six nights in a row without sleeping in a bed before, but these last six nights and days feel like a very long time. Not in a bad way, simply in a jam-packed holy shit what the hell is going on here-way. It’s good. Also feeling like a bit of a klasseforræder for being here when Jan and Bjørn are still jimjilbanging.
Today was one of the strangest days so far. First we had the meeting with Ms. Paik, then Jooyoung, Jan, Power and I went to see the new Samsung museum, which was closed, because it was Monday (Hey! How should we know, right? It’s not like any of us are particularly hip to this whole “artworld” business…with its weird rules and regulations). So then we ended up at Ali Baba, an Egyptian restaurant where we had nice falafels, and just okay hummus, and something which was certainly not the tabouleh we ordered but which was still perfectly okay.
Afterwards the others went on various errands. Jan to buy paint and Jooyoung and Power back to the gallery. I decided that it was about time I get down to what I normally spend most of my time doing when I’m in a city that I don’t know, so I took the subway randomly and walked the streets. That is perhaps not entirely true either. I took the subway to Apgujeon, which is the final stop before the fashion district, with several big department stores and many designer shops along a busy street that goes for maybe a couple of kilometres. No trip yet to Hermés, but I might go there tomorrow as I will be slightly better dressed because we’re starting the day with a meet and greet at the Norwegian embassy to thank them for very generously supporting us with money for the airfare for Bjørn, Jan and myself. (Hey, Nikko: thanks for the comment. Great to hear that the Leif Inge-thing should be happening, it’s going to be great!) Anyway, initial impressions, everything a little boring. Mostly just the Europeans labels you would expect. Raf Simons, Costume National, Viktor & Rolf etc. And the big ones of course. One store had a small, but also disappointing Marc Jacobs section. Of the big houses, Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton had the most impressive buildings. Prada in a league of its own with a super-sleek, big modernist building that seemed perfect for them. Also been wondering a bit about the fate of Louis Vuitton on account of all the knockoff bags I keep seeing. For some reason they seem to be the main target of fakes, I seem to remember this from Oslo as well, and I would guess that the people who can actually afford the real ones would soon be put off by seeing all these lowlife nobodies everywhere sporting their at one time probably beloved LV. And as a result I would imagine that no one can be interested in buying real ones anymore. I mean, these are people who know how to appreciate a good distinction, so they shouldn’t put up with this crap. Any info here would be great.
I feel like my new, if temporary, living arrangements might result in actually having some kind of surplus of mindpower to actually start writing some serious reflections on just what the hell we’re doing over here. For one thing, I’ve been looking through Per Gunnar Tverbakk’s PROJECT DESCRIPTION for his Ph.D. project at the Art Academy in Oslo and there are definitely certain similarities between his ideas and what we’re doing here. Maybe. But to be honest, reading about his project kind of makes me want to be involved in the production of tangible, sellable product-art. So far my only, not so serious reflectiony, response has been to commission t-shirts for all of us saying “I Went To Korea and All I Did was This Processbased Art Project.”
Princess divapower finally got a good night's sleep in a queen size bed in a room of her own. Not that she minded staying at Jooyoung's, not at all - she actually really miss the nightly talks - but she really enjoys to sleep in a real bed with a mattress. Now that she has slept well and feel really good, she also experience another feeling: mega guilt.
I'm beginning to see the "strategies" of Jan over here even more clearly. Yesterday I was joking with him that he should have started the "breaking down of my diva princess attitude" and sense of individuality more lightly instead of pushing me into the completely, totally, democratic bath-house-sleep-arrangement from day one; I meant that if he had arranged a slow downfall in arrangements from the early beginning with a "five class hotel day one, a four star hotel day two, three star day three" etc towards the Jimjilbang which of course is not a hotel at all I would have had a smoother transition and maybe had more time to adjust which would have made things easier to handle. He, on the other side, laughingly replied that he thought it was so much better to change from the Jinjilbang to a five class arrangement so that I really would appreciate the luxury so much more.
I'm most likely turning into a full blown Marxist-communist.
Erlend is in the same boat as myself since he is in the other room in this resort. He's talking about time-share of his room unlike me. I'm far more egoistical and would like to keep the bed the few nights I have it for my disposal (so I'm not yet full blown communist) but I am however more than willing to share the huge bed with Jan or Bjørn, or hell, even both if they would wish (for the record, I am now talking about sharing the bed, not anything else). I'm afraid that the guys are too tactful and won't take up on the offer though, so here I am, in a beautiful house and a wonderful big bed, alone in a room, wirelessly connected and with a magnificent view plus a huge balcony facing the view - this is something I would have loved normally and would have enjoyed totally and felt like it was completely something I "deserved" (think L'oreal) but - now, all I can feel is guilt.
But like I told you, I am not yet able to deal with the consequences of being a convinced commy all the way and therefore not yet ready to move back into the pink uniform shorts-jinjilbang, but I cannot but to be amazed about the smartness of Jan's strategy. He is in a way building a "powerless structure" (no pun intended with myself, pun intended about Elmdrags') in this project. Who has the power in the project? Not the artists participating. Not the curators. There is no gallery owner wanting to sell works, no inherent structure in the space in itself, no curator's strategy or concept, no money involved... I'm always advocating that there are no powerless structures and trying to invent such a situation has a power hierarchy inherent in itself (why I am digesting Lefebvre at the moment) etc, but by placing me and Erlend in this beautiful home while staying himself together with the other artist in this project in the white uniform-shorts at the jinjilbang Jan has made somewhat a decision about the two of us being in another position to be able to go into this residency, why we are not in a "higher rank" or anything of course, but it is a clear decision and choice of distribution of means and funds. I guess the booming economy of Seoul's with its history and closeness to North Korea is a great spot to be considering these things. Especially since I have the Swedish passport representing the land of "lagom" or "witheld sufficiency" which could translate to flat (in both aspects) social democratic boringness.
I am partly exaggerating and am deliberately pushing things to its limit here of course, bear that in mind while reading my qualms. But still. I'm chewing on this, but not yet ready to swallow. I'm not easy about things, not at all, not even when I'm rewarded a bed of my own. A bitchy princess on peas.
The project space's wall behind Bjørn's desk
Excerpt from the wall with Jan's preliminary poster for the project to the right, and another poster about the so called "middle way" of Sweden to the left