It’s often either a dung heap or an emporium when it comes to talking about cities. Either it’s a tight stratification of classes and occupations, or it’s the pluralist frontier—an indeterminate cluster of individual wills and styles that has, for some reason, done little but keep us laid back.
The solo exhibition of Honggoo Kang at One and J. Gallery, The Study of Green-Seoul-Vacant-Lot, is a sobering account of his plastic city. In a series of black and white digital photographs colored in by acrylic paint, a litter of vacant lots become sites of violence, ones that come with a change of hands. A residential complex once, a fishery then, a foreign embassy soon, a landfill, eventually, the histories of these public spaces are lost to us without verbal exposition. “And these sites, ironically,” writes the artist in his statement, “are with a thick growth of trees and bushes so that they are covered in green. The green trees and grasses… seemed to temporarily cover large wounds.”
The artist’s manipulation of his photographs comes as a gesture of distrust toward the documentary medium in chronicling the instituionalized power at work. The voluntary act of painting over the black and white prints takes us to an even further remove. How ought we regard this beautification? Can we call this agency? The work of an invisible hand?
The Study of Green-Seoul-Vacant-Lot is on its last week (ends May 31, 2020). See it online; start here.
Anchor photo: Honggoo Kang. “Study of Green-Seoul-Vacant Lot-Songhyeon-dong 2.” 2019. Pigment print and
acrylic on canvas, 90 x 200 cm. ©ONE AND J. Gallery.
For Zero Hunger PH
We thank the artists Kiko Capile and Manix Abrera, as we happily pledge part of the proceeds from our “Athena” and “Mandirigma ng Dalam-Hati” tote bags to Zero Hunger PH’s crowdfund. Zero Hunger PH is a youth-led movement aimed at creating and distributing food bags to the homeless and families at risk, following the ECQ’s suspension of work.
To learn more about initiatives like Zero Hunger PH, Help From Home PH is an online information hub that connects people who want to help with people who need it the most.