Un-pretty pictures: the dark side of the World Cup

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Un-pretty pictures: the dark side of the World Cup

Though more than a month has passed since the close of the World Cup, many Koreans still haven't recovered from Dae Han Min Guk fever.

Now, a group of domestic artists is trying to put a cold pack on the nation's forehead. At Ssamzie Space, a gallery in Changcheon-dong, near Hongik University in Seoul, they've put together an exhibition that attempts to show the less pleasant side of the soccer games.

The title of the show, which will last until Aug. 20, is "Local Cup."

The exhibition, consisting of paintings, photographs and video arts, criticizes the nationalism and commercialism surrounding the World Cup.

The exhibition also tries to censure the public, some of whom ignored important issues because of their euphoria for the matches, and the media, which encouraged them to do so.

"We, the people of 'Dae Han Min Guk,' had no time to ruminate about what we gained and what we lost through the World Cup -- only madness possessed us," said Kim Jun-gi, the director of the show and head of the public art team for Gana Art Consulting.

"Now that we've returned to everyday life, we should calmly assess the after-effects of the games and analyze the related cultural codes," he added.

Thirteen artists are participating in the exhibition. One of the most striking works is a painting by Park Yeong-gyun. It contrasts the downtown streets burning red with a cheering crowd with a pale man in a suit, perched on top of a building, looking down gloomily.

The artist says the solitary man represents the generation, now in their 30s, who led the demonstrations against the military regime on those same streets exactly 15 years before.

A video artwork by Kim Chang-gyeom tries to show how the electronic media dominates World Cup matches. Mr. Kim puts an image of a few people playing soccer on an empty field with no spectators against a giant TV screen that depicts the Korean national soccer team and the Red Devil cheering squads.

Another painting, by Gwon Ja-yeon, portrays the social issues that were overlooked, minimized or distorted in news reports in June, because of the overwhelming coverage taken up by the World Cup games.

To satirize the commercialism of the games, the artist Park Bul-ttong put together photo collages whose main themes are money and soccer players.

A series of paintings by Kim Tae-heon shows how his thoughts fragmented during the World Cup fever. The paintings include an image of his garden -- it was taken over by weeds during June, because the artist was fixated on the games.

A series of photographs by Lim Heung-sun is thought-provoking: It shows an image of foreign laborers in Korea wearing the cheering squad's red T-shirts, and then an image of the Demilitarized Zone. The artist says the work portrays the coexistence of local issues and global issues in Korea.

For more information, call 02-3142-1695.

by Moon So-young

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