What is art if it’s not snooty? A party

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What is art if it’s not snooty? A party

With Korean pop music blaring from the corner of a sweltering downtown parking lot, young men on roller blades glide past well-heeled professionals as excited groups of young women push around grocery carts. Video art projected onto the cement walls give the space an eeriee glow. Multicoloured flags are hung from the ceiling.
Some visitors were bewildered by the sight and quickly left, while others embraced the unusual atmosphere and enjoyed the inexhaustable supply of beer and hot dogs.
The scene last week was a product of “Gogo Virus,” the second in a series of performances and exhibitions organized by Art Center Nabi, a Seoul gallery known for organizing contemporary digital art shows.
By transforming the gallery’s own underground parking lot into a ’70s-style roller rink, the exhibit was intended to be more like a party, with the fourteen participating artists hosting the “party-going” audience.
“People tend to associate art with pretension and something that can be difficult to understand,” said Jung Doo-sup, one of the artists participating in the event. “We simply wanted to show people a good time and convey that today’s art is for everyone, for the common man.”
The invitation called for exuberant people searching for new encounters, and asked them to bring roller skates, skateboards, go-carts, or anything mobile.
The buzz over interactive exhibitions began last year, spurred by Internet weblogs, known as blogs.
“Feedback is crucial for an artist, and the accessibility of it on blogs piqued my interest,” said Kim June, a long-time artist.
Hoping to tap into the rapidly expanding population of bloggers, the curator of Nabi Art Center, Choi Doo-eun, teamed up with others to create an online art magazine in the form of a blog named “Love Virus.” The magazine was part of a collaborative effort between Nabi Art Center and Cyworld.com, a popular Web site.
“We chose the word ‘love’ because it was the topic most discussed online,” Ms. Choi said, “and like a virus, art can invade our lives in a potent and permanent way that disintegrates all boundaries.”
“Love Virus,” which originally began as a short-term project, has now flourished into a popular online magazine with more than 60,000 online visitors a day.
Ms. Choi and the artists who chose the venue for “Gogo Virus” knew peoples’ reactions would be unpredictable. “People may initially be slightly intimidated and find the exhibit unapproachable, but that makes it more stimulating.”
The group of artists, some more experienced and some less so, assembled interactive events and provided visual effects, music, and performances for the evening. All shared the same theme, a celebration of the intricacies of human relationships.
The most entertaining event was probably the artist Lee Jung-hwa’s work titled, “Pharmacy of love.” Ms. Lee prepared special pills with messages written both by her and by online fans. Her concept was to distribute water bottles and pills to participants of the opposite sex. When one person with a bottle of water and one with a pill talked with each other, she would place a band-aid over their hearts, supposedly ‘healing’ their ailments. Unfortunately, many athletic visitors seemed more interested in taking advantage of the spacious parking lot to roller blade than participate in the art exhibit.
The artists are currently discussing holding a third event. “Our goal is to assist the public in embracing art, and in essence, embracing life,” Ms. Choi said.


by K. Tina Hyun

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