Art center opens up in scenic bamboo forest

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Art center opens up in scenic bamboo forest

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Visitors to the Lee Leenam Art Center look at a work of video art that depicts Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” turning into blood and flowers, which represents the horror of war. [Jung Jae-suk]

DAMYANG COUNTY, South Jeolla - Media artist Lee Lee-nam opened an art center on Tuesday in the rural county where he was born.

The Lee Leenam Art Center is located inside the Juknokwon bamboo forest for which the county is famous. The forest attracts 1.5 million visitors a year, and those who wanted a sneak peak of the art center even before the official opening stopped by earlier this month.

“When I was young, I remember looking over at Juknokwon from afar while shadowing my mother to the Damyang five-day market and was thinking the place was very mysterious and marvelous,” Lee said.

The exhibition room on the first floor displays 10 of the artist’s major works under bright lights. In one of his video pieces, combat planes fly out of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and a nuclear bomb explodes. Then, the Mona Lisa becomes covered with blood and flowers.

He also worked with Gustav Klimt’s famous painting, “The Kiss,” and made the work turn into teardrops. The videos last between three and 20 minutes, and most contain imagery of well-known works of art.

The second-floor exhibition room has a more natural feel, as there are many pieces inspired by bamboo on display. The space is darker than the bright first-floor gallery so visitors can feel calm.

The art center is the result of collaboration between Choi Hyeong-sik, the head of Damyang County, and the president of the museum consulting firm Mileseum, Choi Seog-jung, who worked together to come up with content for local residents and visitors.

They projected that the bamboo forest alone wouldn’t be enough to keep attracting people in the long run. So the two decided to incorporate human culture into the natural setting.

This art center aims to provide a place to enjoy nature and art, both digital and analogue, as well as a relaxing experience and an opportunity to experience something new.

To promote the new direction Damyang County has taken, the county office has launched a campaign called “Good Breath.”

“For many who suffer from stress and atopic diseases, the bamboo forest will be the place where they can naturally be healed,” Choi said.

The art center is also donating part of its proceeds to help promote the campaign.

BY JUNG JAE-SUK
[summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

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