Pigs invade Seoul's subway

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Pigs invade Seoul's subway

When people say "pigs might fly," they are usually referring to something very unlikely. But there is nothing unlikely at all about the artistic pigs that fly -- and dance and sing -- with commuters in the Seoul subway these days.

"Happy Flying Pig Metro" is a multimedia art project taking place on eight cars on Seoul subway line No. 5. Each themed train offers not only artwork by local artists of various genres -- painting, graphics, installations, sculpture, video art and more -- but also information on the animal as food, thereby provoking the imaginations of riders in a most unlikely place.

For the project, pigs are personified, decorated and served as food. The exterior of the train is painted with abstract, if not comic, pigs happily flying on white clouds. As the sliding doors close, two pigs colorfully dressed on each door meet, as if to shake hands.

In car No. 1, Korean artists Gang Yong-myeon, Ju Dong-jin and Hwang Hye-sin made flying pigs of aluminum, wood and fabric.

Ten artists from Ewha Womans University worked on car No. 2, which is decorated like a kitchen. Titled "I Love My Kitchen," there are free postcards with the 10 best recipes to make pork dishes, as recommended by food experts Han Bok-seon, Ahn Seung-chun and Park Ji-hee.

Car No. 5 features children's paintings. Car No. 8 is a rolling video art museum featuring animated works on 18 monitors. The car is often packed with children playing a game of darts that uses a pig as a target.

Behind this entertainment-meets-art project is Info Art Korea, a company which opened in 1999. "Happy Flying Pig Metro" is the firm's fourth public art project on the subway. "Modern art has become commercially controlled by a few art critics and is too complicated and difficult for most people," says Chang Dong-jo, the president of Info Art Korea. "If there's art in the subway on a daily basis, then anyone can gain experience."

Mr. Chang chose subway cars as an artistic medium after learning that as many as 6,000 commuters ride each car daily.

"My goal is to turn that noncommunicative public space into an entertainment area so riders participate in events and share feelings," he said.

Mr. Chang predicts that by the end of the project, more than a half million people will have enjoyed the art for free. Mr. Chang even claims that his project is helping to improve the image of Korea's ailing pork industry.

"The ultimate goal of public art is to encourage public participation and create support and awareness for the various needs of society," he says. "Through the interesting images of pigs, people have begun to think, 'You mean there's more in the pig than just bacon?'"

by Ines Cho

"Happy Flying Pig Metro" runs on subway line No. 5 until March 19. The dart-throwing event and Rail Art performances are held from 1:35 to 2:30 p.m. every Thursday between Kkachisan and Cheonho stations.

For more information, visit the Web sites at www.flyingpig.co.kr or www.wowproject.co.kr.

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