Busan leader to apologize to family of Oppenheim

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Busan leader to apologize to family of Oppenheim

The head of a district office in Busan that controversially removed a sculpture by American artist Dennis Oppenheim (1938-2011) without notifying the artist’s family will travel to the United States on Thursday to apologize to Oppenheim’s wife.

Haeundae District Office head Baek Sun-gi will meet with Amy Oppenheim, the renowned artist’s wife and head of the Oppenheim foundation, on Friday.

During the week of Dec. 11, the district office in Busan demolished “Chamber,” a work by Oppenheim that had been displayed at Haeundae Beach since 2011, without consulting the family and discarded the materials of the sculpture as industrial waste.

The incident was revealed to the public through a report by Busan Ilbo, a local newspaper.

The district office had formerly denied responsibility for maintaining the artwork, and argued that it was up to the Busan Biennale Organizing Committee to care of it, since Oppenheim’s work was chosen by the biennale. But on Jan. 23, the district office made an official statement acknowledging their fault.

“We offer a sincere apology to the family [of the artist] and the citizens [of Busan] for taking down Oppenheim’s ‘Chamber’ without notifying the family,” said Baek.

“We were too focused on solving civil complaints that we looked over common-sense procedures regarding [handling] artwork, and have hurt a lot of people in the course .?.?. We will take this opportunity to look back on ourselves and work to fix the wrongs.”

Baek and Oppenheim will discuss reinstalling the work.

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]
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