Art for the environmentally conscious

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Art for the environmentally conscious

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Indian artist Vivan Sundaram’s photograph “Metal Box” (2008) is part of the “Greening Green” exhibit at the Arko Art Center in central Seoul. Provided by the museum

There has been a lot of talk in Korea about “green growth,” or economic development paired with eco-friendly initiatives, green cars and green cuisine. But less attention is given to art that speaks to viewers’ concerns about environmental destruction.

Works in this category are the focus of the “Greening Green” exhibition at the Arko Art Center in the Daehangno neighborhood in central Seoul.

The exhibition, with works by 13 teams of artists from eight countries, started yesterday as part of the cultural events organized to celebrate the G-20 Summit in Seoul and will continue through Nov. 28. It features paintings, photos and animated films, as well as installation works made from trash and other discarded materials.

The first section, entitled “Environmental Archiving,” shows the current state of the environment in ways that are at times eloquent, at times quiet.

In the former group are the strong, yet expressive pieces in the photography series by Indian artist Vivan Sundaram. The series shows endless fields of used cans and other junk, and the effect is simply overwhelming.

The works by Yao Lu from China are also shocking. At first glance, they look like traditional Chinese landscape paintings. But a closer look reveals that what appeared to be paintings of green-forested mountains are actually photos of green nets covering bare mountains that have been stripped of life.

The show also includes works by James Balog, a renowned documentary photographer from the United States. His spectacular photos of disappearing glaciers show the negative effects of global warming.

The second section, entitled “Artistic Imagination,” shows works that actively address environmental issues.

An installation by American artist Letha Wilson is especially interesting because it reminds viewers that the creation of art and art exhibitions also generates waste, thereby damaging the environment. Her installation work is made of used free-standing walls that she recovered from art museums and galleries.

Exhibition organizers agree with her approach.

“Through the exhibition, we are aiming to find the meaning of a sustainable environment in the context of an exhibition by reducing waste as much as possible and finding effective ways to recycle during the production and preparation process,” Arko Art Center said in a press release.

This section also includes a humorous animated film by Niall Towl and Jason Attar of Britain. The film parodies the 007 series to make a statement about the negative effects of thermal power plants. Another animated film by local artist Kim Hye-won shows the massacre of wild animals by humans.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the art center is also organizing a variety of plans designed to maximize contact and communication with the audience, including performances, workshops and artist talks, the center said.

One of the events is a lecture by Yoon Ho-seob, professor of visual design at Kookmin University who is known for launching campaigns for eco-friendly design. The lecture is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on Saturday.


The exhibition runs through Nov. 28. It is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Go to Hyehwa Station, line No. 4, exit 2. For more, visit www.arkoartcenter.or.kr.


By Moon So-young [symoon@joongang.co.kr]

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