Unfortgettable: The Years Ahead
‘APMAP 2016 Yongsan Make Link’
Yongsan Family Park, AMOREPACIFIC Headquarters Site
Aug. 13 – Sep. 10, 2016
The APMAP (Amorepacific Museum of Art Project), the public art project organized by Amorepacific Museum of Art (APMA), holds its fourth exhibition this year. After Osan in 2013, Jeju in 2014, and Yongin in 2015, this year’s exhibition will finally be held in Seoul at the Yongsan Family Park. Including the construction of the new AMOREPACIFIC Headquarters Site, which will be completed in 2018, the two projects began their respective journeys only about a month ago on 13 August. What exactly will visitors to the park gain from this project? written by Harry Jun | materials provided by Amorepacific Museum of Art
SoA, Embracing Wall, 2016
A Detailed Look at APMAP
APMAP is a public art project that was started in 2013 by APMA to discover new and upcoming local artists and to promote the popularization and development of contemporary art. In 2013 at the corporation’s production and distribution complex for its cosmetic products (AMOREPACIFIC Beauty Campus at Gyeonggi-do, Osan), APMAP experimented on how common space can be transformed into an artistic space under the theme ‘Reverspace’. Among the green tea fields of Seogwang Tea Garden/Osulloc, Jeju Island, APMAP 2014 was held under the theme of ‘Between waves’, from the position that the natural environment of Jeju would inspire and provoke audience emotions and open new horizons. In 2015, at the lab gardens of AMOREPACIFIC R&D Center in Gyeonggi-do, Yongin, a space for contemplation and discussion was prepared under the theme of ‘Researcher’s way’, in order to share thoughts on precious values such as beauty, as well as the technical skills and desires required to achieve them.
APMAP 2016: Talking about ‘Links’ in Public Spaces
For APMAP 2016 there is a contrast from previous years in terms of location and theme. First, the Yongsan Family Park — the main location for this exhibition — is a public park provided by the Seoul Metropolitan Government. Compared to the previous exhibitions, which were held at private locations owned by the corporation, here there is a significant difference in terms of locational context and audience demographics. Also, in 1992, during the process by which the Seoul Metropolitan Government reclaimed ownership of a portion of land that was used by the U.S. military in Korea for its base in Yongsan, the land was converted into parks and a number of artworks were installed there. This means that there is a need for works that will not only highlight the unique identity of APMAP but that are also a full materialization of their thematic idea. In this sense the theme for this year, ‘Make Link’, is interesting. As the U.S. military base moves location the size of the Yongsan Family Park will be expanded dramatically and will be ‘linked’ with the AMOREPACIFIC Headquarters, currently under construction. In other words, ‘Make Link’ will actually become a physical reality. Furthermore, the theme not only relates in a deep way with the site-specific timeline that connects the past, present, and future of Yongsan, but also allows one to further contemplate the eternal question of mankind (?) — that is, a question regarding the ‘connection between city, nature, and human beings’. For this exhibition 14 teams were selected from the group of artists that participated in APMAP over the past three years and were placed at the Yongsan Family Park, while the AMOREPACIFIC Headquarters Site was left to the three newly participating teams. Therefore, considering the location, theme, and accumulated know-how of the participating artists, APMAP 2016 is equipped with a rather favourable background for the works to fully express the thematic idea.
The Works that Melted by Themselves
As such, the main focal point for this year’s APMAP was how well the public factors and the special qualities of the space — or more generally, the thematic idea — are projected through the work. If the audience in the park can easily understand and appreciate the main theme and the works from their various locational contexts, taking an active participatory role in the work, it would mean that the exhibition was sufficiently meaningful. Furthermore, if the exhibition could provide a visually stimulating and moving experience, it would have been more than perfect. I visited the park a number of times with these standards in mind, and, although I inspected the works thoroughly, I could not hide my disappointment. The problem was that only a handful of works could fully portray the thematic idea to a satisfactory level. For example, Wonwoo Lee’s Fountain was a robot-shaped sculpture made out of second-hand refrigerators and washing machines; by filling its fridge-legs with cold water Lee’s artwork tried to actively reach out and form relationships with its viewers by providing water to visitors of the park. In this respect it was eye-catching. By installing a wide, mirrored metallic pavilion on the wall that separated the park and the U.S. military base, SoA’s Embracing Wall created an illusion of the park expanded infinitely into the wall, allowing one to imagine how the Yongsan Family Park might look if the remaining land was returned to the Seoul Metropolitan Government — an idea that was simple and yet attention-grabbing. Jungki Beak’s The Mountain that Resembles a Dragon was an altar installation for a rain ceremony that houses a mythical dragon which is said to control the waters in Yongsan, containing much fire energy. By attaching a solar panel to it, Beak implemented a very clever idea that allowed the installation to self-broadcast the story of Yongsan via radio. Aside from these works, however, in most cases the artists had overlooked their locational significance and directed most of their attention on translating their art style into something suitable for an outdoor installation; or, due to a very mundane interpretation of the theme, their works appeared as if they would not feel out of place even when placed in the middle of a desert or a city. It was even rare to find examples among the works which focused on inviting audience participation that functioned properly. It was as if the artist and the artwork literally melted by themselves.
That Which We Must Not Forget
APMAP 2016 has provided both the artists and audience with an unexpected lesson: a public project for outdoor installations is truly difficult. In spite of the experience of having participated in APMAP previously, this is proven by the fact that the interior work inside the AMOREPACIFIC Headquarters Site looks more promising than the Yongsan Family Park. Still, it is not easy to accept the extremely hot weather and the difficulty of outdoor installations as an adequate explanation. From displaying a thematic mismatch between the works and the exhibition to the lack of possibilities for (and the actual functioning of) public participation, one cannot help but feel disappointed about the museum’s curation. This opinion is reinforced when one looks at the few works that have managed to hold steadfast in their vision of the thematic idea, in spite of the unfavourable conditions. APMAP Part 1 ends with this Yongsan exhibition and Part 2 will begin at Jeju Island next year. While holding onto the hope that things will get better as time passes, there is also something that one should not forget: that is, to reflect on what for this year was good, what was lacking, and what the measures were for overcoming them. If this is not carried out, APMAP will be no more than a mere corporate-run arts festival. It is hoped that a satisfied smile will be on everyone’s faces at Jeju Island next year.
Jungki Beak, The Mountain that Resembles a Dragon, 2016
Wonwoo Lee, Fountain, 2016
Kim Siwon, Untitled(,x), 2016
AnLstudio, Re:Circle, 2016