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Inventive funhouses for the Instagram set : Picture perfect spaces give visitors the chance to show off

Jan 24,2018
The entrance of “Instasia,” an exhibition being held in Songdo, Incheon, is decorated to create unique photo opportunities for visitors. The whole exhibition aims to be a space for people to take photos to post on social media. [YOON SO-YEON]
As fun and fulfilling as it is to go a good exhibition, the experience isn’t complete for many young people without a photo to post to social media to prove that they were there. These days it is more likely to see people at an exhibit standing in line for the museum’s photo zone than it is to see them waiting to get a look at an ambitious piece of art.

Museums have noticed the change in behavior of many of its visitors and have adapted accordingly by installing exhibits that are more photo-friendly and interactive. Rather than displaying complex works from big-name artists that take hours to mentally digest, galleries aiming to draw tech-savvy, younger crowds with displays that look more like carefully-designed photo shoot sets than art exhibitions are becoming increasingly popular.

“Instasia” is one such example. The exhibition, currently ongoing at the IBS Tower in Songdo, Incheon, is made up of a number of studio-style sets that act as photo zones for those looking for a unique backdrop to pose in front of for their Instagram account. It may be a nearly two-hour subway ride away from Seoul, but the exhibit sees at least 200 to 300 visitors everyday, and over 500 visitors during weekends.

According to Hong Ji-hyeong from Statice, the organizer of “Instasia,” the idea started a couple of years ago, when the company put together an art exhibition at a museum.

“We held an exhibition in Yongsan [central Seoul], and we found that the visitors liked the photo zone more than the actual art works. People lined up for minutes just to take a photo,” said Hong.

What visitors were lining up for, as explained by Hong, was to take an injeung-shot, a Korean phrase that translates to “proof shot.” An injeung-shot is a photo to prove that you ate something, saw something, or that you were at a specific place. While it may seem strange to some, the idea of taking an injeung-shot is often more important than the experience itself. As of Jan. 22, there are over 723,000 posts on Instagram featuring the hashtag injeung-shot of a variety of places and things. “Instasia” capitalizes on this phenomenon.

Throughout “Instasia” are sections decorated in unique styles that visitors can choose from, including a dressing room, a mirror-room, a wardrobe full of pink roses, a green field of flowers and more. Each setting works as a fabulous background that looks like a poster or a music video set. Each zone has different props available to use and is outfitted with photo shoot-ready lighting.

“Since we get so many visitors on the weekends, some people spend hours here waiting to get their turn to take the best shot,” said Hong. “Our initial target was young women in their teens and 20s. But it turned out that people in their 30s and 40s really liked to come together with their children to take family photos. Some people even [get dressed up] and walk around in cocktail dresses. And quite often, people bring along professional photographers they’ve hired to take photos for them.”

The latest exhibitions allow guests to take photos in front of the perfect spots that look great on screen. From left are scenes from “Instasia” in Songdo, Incheon, “Into the Mist” by cosmetics brand Dr. Jart in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul, “Alice: Into the Rabbit Hole” in eastern Seoul and “Donbaekjeon” in southern Seoul. [YOON SO-YEON]
There are similar spots in Seoul as well, where the exhibition is focused more on what’s captured through one’s smartphone camera than the value of the works on display.

“Alice: Into the Rabbit Hole” is an exhibition in eastern Seoul themed around a modern interpretation of “Alice in Wonderland,” with separate rooms depicting different parts of the tale.

The contents of an exhibit titled “Donbaekjeon” currently ongoing in Gangnam, southern Seoul, are quite straightforward. Slang phrases and curse words are printed on the walls of the exhibit and people happily take pictures in front of them. Although the language is vulgar (mostly made up of Korean puns that cannot be translated directly or printed) people like the idea of a light-hearted exhibition that allows them to speak their minds without having to actually say anything.

“Into the Mist,” currently being hosted by cosmetics brand Dr. Jart, is not exactly an exhibition, but an art project at its flagship store located in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul. Outside the building is a small hallway full of white mist that changes color with the lights inside.

Visitors can take pictures both inside and outside of the hallway. The shop is also filled with mist, giving a mysterious ambience to the whole space and attracting shoppers from off the street curious to discover what is going on inside.

“The works are purposefully made to look good in photographs,” said Lee Jeong-hyun from the brand’s PR agency. “If previous art projects were focused on highlighting artistic [talent], this project is aimed to be more engaging for the visitors.”

YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]



“Instasia” will run through the spring, with the exact closing date still undecided. The location is a five-minute walk from International Business District Station, on Incheon Metro line No. 1, exit 5. Admission is 12,000 won ($11.16) for adults, 10,000 won for university students and 6,000 won for children. The exhibition is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Visitors are advised to go on weekdays or early on weekends, as they may not get the chance to spend enough time if there are too many people. For more information, call (02) 3661-7772.

“Alice: Into the Rabbit Hole” will end March 28, a 10-minute walk from Ttukseom Station, line No. 2. Admission is 13,000 won for adults, 11,000 won for students and 9,000 won for children from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit 2017alice.modoo.at or call 1522-1796.

“Donbaekjeon” is held at the Gangnam Museum of Art, Gangnam Station line No. 2 and Shinbundang line, exit 4. Admission is 9,000 won for adults and 5,000 won for students. The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. For more information, visit gnma.kr or call 070-4633-1845.

Dr. Jart’s Sinsa-dong flagship store, the “Filter Space in Seoul,” is 5 minutes away from Sinsa Station, line No. 3, exit 8. “Into the Mist” will be held until spring. For more information, call (02) 2135-5453.



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