Fantasy show christens new art space

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Fantasy show christens new art space

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For highbrow patrons of art, the concept of an alternative space may conjure images of amateur, starving-artists trying to make a statement. The newly opened Miccle, professing to be an alternative space rather than a gallery, reinforces that idea with its location on the third floor of a rundown building near Hongik University in northwestern Seoul. But don’t let the dingy exterior fool you. All it takes is a stretch of imagination to enjoy Miccle’s first exhibition, “It’s Not Magic.” The seven works by four new artists ― Gang Ji-yoon, Lee Hoon, Lee Jeong-hoo, and In Hyo-jin ― share the theme of fantasy.
“There are moments when we wonder whether the world surrounding us is real or a dream,” said Yoo Hee-won, the Miccle’s curator. The show’s installations, photographs and paintings “traverse the boundaries between fantasy and reality.” The artists had not known each other before the exhibition, but shared a similar perspective ― a curiosity about hidden nooks and crannies rather than what is before the naked eye.
Miccle, which means “slippery” in Korean, is the creative haven of the project group Sfumatology, consisting of Ms. Yoo, her brother, the debuting film director Yoo Seong-joon, her musician husband and his sister, who is also an artist. For years they had wanted a place of their own to serve as both a studio and an exhibition space. The group’s emphasizes experimentation and aims to be free from the commercial pressures of the ordinary art galleries. They envision Miccle as an incubator where experimental collaborations between visual arts and other mediums can take off.
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A photography installation by Lee Jeong-hoo, 26, is titled “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star How I Wonder What You Are.” It distorts and reconstructs a clock, a door and a window. “People believe only what they can see, but I am constantly captivated by what might exist beyond that,” Ms. Lee said. Living in London while studying fine art at the Chelsea College of Art and Design, she wondered what happened behind the tightly closed blinds of her neighbors’ windows and doors. Her photograph of a small door is reminiscent of “Alice in Wonderland,” a motif she returns to often.
A similar fantasy inspired the oil paintings of Gang Ji-yoon, a 22-year-old artist who just started her graduate studies in painting at Kookmin University. Her painting, “Muffin Girl,” is the most eye-catching piece in the exhibition. The shape of a muffin merges with the head of a golden-haired girl on a plate. The image is both grotesque and fantastical.
In another section, a film projector sits next to coils of film, while a film of the making of “R-Point,” a Korean movie, is projected on the opposite wall. This installation by Lee Hoon is meant to convey the experience of moviegoers, who willingly immerse themselves in the imagined reality of a film.
Alternative spaces were introduced in Korea about five years ago, and have recently been springing up in the Hongdae area. They occupy the fringe of the contemporary art world while adding new energy to the mainstream. Of course, Ms. Yoo doesn’t plan to sit on the outskirts forever. “The purpose of Miccle is to provide a starting ground for artists, even undergraduate students. A lot of people don’t see the point of doing something so unprofitable, but in the long-term, I think this could be successful, both artistically and commercially,” said Ms. Yoo.


by Kim Su-jin

The exhibition runs until Jan. 11. Admission is free. Miccle is open from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The nearest subway station is Hongik University station, line No. 2, exit 6. Walk to Hongik University main gate, turn right and walk about 150 meters. Miccle is opposite the Buy the Way store. For more information, call (02) 325-6504 or visit the Web site, www.miccle.com.
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