Artist turns a shack into an exhibitionIf you’re expecting a simple outing to an exhibition on a lazy afternoon, be prepared for a surprise: Haegue Yang’s installation artwork, “Sa-dong 30,” is anything but predictable.
The title of her artwork, “Sa-dong 30,” is actually the address of a deserted house in Incheon. To see the work, you have to go ― no, search ― for that house located in the western port city. It takes more than a little effort to get there, which the installation artist kindly explains is because “the route to Sa-dong is all part of the exhibition.”
“What I wanted was something surreptitious, but that is common and open at the same time,” said Ms. Yang, 34. “I am more interested in susceptible areas that make you turn back and look into yourself.”
The trip to the old western end of the town took over an hour on the subway and longer, with the rattling bus you need to hop onto after getting off the train. After walking and stopping every few minutes to ask passersby where exactly “30-53” is, the half-collapsed house came into sight.
The gate to the house was firmly locked. But this is the fun part: You have to unlock the key yourself by punching in the 5-digit number the artist included in her invitation cards. (For JoongAng Daily readers, the secret number has been written down below).
“Sa-dong 30” is no longer the small pretty house where Ms. Yang’s grandmother lived until her death eight years ago. Apparently, no one has lived here since. The windows were broken, the ceiling was full of holes, the wallpaper was tattered and the floor was covered with a thick layer of dust. But behind the trash and dirt, paper cubes and bells in various colors were scattered around the floor and a bright light Ms. Yang had placed there blinked.
A note was found posted on a broken refrigerator: “Thanks for coming all this way. Please be careful. This is an old house. There is drinking water in the icebox outside. Lock the doors when you leave. If you need to visit the restroom, use the one at the nearby gas station.”
There were dirty blankets, a broken mirror, a ripped sofa and a clock that strangely did not stop ― neither did a fan, which slowly kept rotating.
“This place symbolizes a space where social functions and time have stopped,” said Kim Hyun-jin, Ms. Yang’s friend and collaborator in the project.
Ms. Kim explained that the house seemed huge and was a great comfort to her artist friend, but as time passed, the house became no more than a puny shack. Through this house, Ms. Kim said, Ms. Yang wanted to show how a person’s memory could change over time.
This is Ms. Yang’s first exhibition in Korea. She is currently studying in Europe. The numbers to the lock are hardly a secret, but she plans to keep the house only until Oct. 8.
by Lee Min-a
To find your way to “Sa-dong 30,” get off at Dongincheon station on the far west end of subway line No. 1. Then, take either bus No. 3 or 23 at the bus stop across the street from the subway station. Get off in front of Incheon Commercial Girl’s High School and walk into the alley running across the left side of the the school. The old house sits behind a small office building called “Harbor,” addressed “30-53.”
When you see the blue gate, you know you’ve found the right place. The number to open the lock is 13579. Let yourself in, but make sure you lock up the house after your leave, so the next visitor has to go through the same ritual.