An artist who wants the world to criticize

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An artist who wants the world to criticize

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Ham Seong-ho with his exhibition, “Cafe of Discontent” at Takeout Drawing in Samseong-dong.[JoongAng Ilbo]

“I have a problem with your architecture, your poetry.” Under this eye-catching slogan, poet and architect Ham Seong-ho, 44, started his exhibition titled “Cafe of Discontent” on January 9 at Samseong-dong, southern Seoul at a gallery/cafe space called Takeout Drawing (www.takeoutdrawing.com). Mr. Ham is widely known as a poet with a sharp critical eye regarding contemporary society.
As the door opened on the space, a black line can be seen bisecting the walls of the gallery. On the top half, sketches of architectural designs are posted and on the bottom half, first drafts of poems are hung. Altogether, there were around 80 pieces of paper.
“I have displayed the first drafts of the poems and designs that I have written and drawn myself. So I have basically laid out my creative process as an open book. I decided to show the audience this process and let them add their own opinions about the process during this exhibition,” said Mr. Ham.
The exhibition invites the audience to participate in the creative process. Many poets avoid showing their first drafts. Not Mr. Ham. The poem “Maple Tree” for example, is the final result of nine different drafts that are laid out on the walls next to each other. Starting from small, palm-sized notes to A4-size pieces of paper, “Maple Tree” finally becomes a poem.
So what is the meaning behind the black line?
“The upper half of the divide symbolizes incarnation,” says Mr. Ham. “Architecture also needs a language. A blueprint is only possible after the architect explains his or her idea through words. I tried to show the process of how an architectural design, which started from language, developed into a specific visual design. The lower part is ‘interference’, the part where audiences and readers can intervene with the creative process and create a totally different piece of work.”
The poet expects that in a month or so, the walls will be filled with comments.
During this exhibition, there are also interactive events that the audience can enjoy. This Tuesday, seven people who live in houses designed by Mr. Ham will comment on the problems and pleasures they experienced. On Wednesday, at Busan’s INDIGO lecture hall, Mr. Ham as well as other poets, including Gang Jeong, Seong Gi-wan and Sim Bo-seon are giving a seminar. Next month, on the 9th, there will be a concert and a poem recital at Takeout Drawing.
When asked about his technique, the poet replied with his forecast for the future of 21st century art. “The art of the 21st century is of process. The era of completed, perfected art is over and the process is the only thing that remains,” he said.


By Baek Il-hyeon JoongAng Ilbo jainnie@joongang.co.kr

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