How to Have An Art Exhibit Without Art? Show It Online!

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How to Have An Art Exhibit Without Art? Show It Online!

The British Council Korea had big plans for an exhibition of hip British graphic designers due to open last Friday. "Ultravision," an internationally touring exhibition, was supposed to arrive from the Syrian Arab Republic in time for a 10-day showing at the Korea Institute of Industrial Design Promotion, then go to the Republic of Venezuela.

The big plans came to a grinding halt.

As organizers scrambled to solve the problem of crates of art stuck in Syria, fans of contemporary British art in Korea gave a collective sigh of disappointment. Due to high interest from the public and the art and design community, the British Council decided not to cancel the exhibition altogether.

The solution? A virtual gallery on the British Council Web site, to be found at, currently online.

"The Web site lacks the flavor of seeing the exhibition in person," admits Yoomie Goh of the British Council. She says that size, quality and the feeling of each art work ? some intended for three-dimensional viewing ? are compromised. But having the works available to see online is better than having nothing at all, Ms. Goh said.

Talk in art circles is that the center of contemporary art is moving from New York to London. The graphic designers featured in the exhibition, such as Jonathan Barnbrook, Tomato, Tank, Angus Hyland at Pentagram and Miels Murray Sorrell Fuel, are all based in the United Kingdom. Designed by the design firm Bump, "Ultravision" presents a snapshot of the graphic art scene in the United Kingdom. The exhibition features the works of 20 emerging and established design companies.

By letting the art speak for itself, "we wanted to show the Korean public why these people are famous," Ms. Goh said.

Three of the works were commissioned to show a new technology developed by the British sign manufacturer, SMF Displays. In each, three images are shown in sequence, creating an illusion of movement as one image dissolves into the next. The artists explored what it means to be a Briton, or to live in Britain at this turn of the century. Themes explored range from integrity to violence to toilet humor.

What kept the exhibition works from coming to Korea was, simply put, scheduling conflicts hampered by cultural differences and a lack of diplomatic relations between Syria and Korea. Lack of relations is significant only because it reflects the number of direct flights from Syria to Seoul: none.

To get art to Seoul from Syria was a logistical nightmare of flight legs from Syria to Bahrain to Hong Kong to Seoul. As Ms. Goh said, "We kept hitting impasses, in every way possible."

by Joe Yong-hee

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