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Artists look to post-pandemic 'translocality' at Arko Art Center

By Park Yuna

Published : Dec. 21, 2022 - 11:58

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An installation view of “Local in the Making” at Arko Art Center in Jongno-gu, central Seoul (Arko Art Center) An installation view of “Local in the Making” at Arko Art Center in Jongno-gu, central Seoul (Arko Art Center)

For several years, the pandemic had made it difficult to travel internationally. But choosing to explore domestic destinations also meant people became exposed to different regional elements and specialties, from food and attractions, to local culture.

Likewise, the theme of locality has also gained traction in the art circle.

The exhibition “Local in the Making” at Arko Art Center in Jongno-gu, central Seoul, looks into locality, to seek ways to better understand others. A total of 14 artists and artist collectives joined the exhibition that centers around the concept of “translocality.”

“Localities can be understood only within their associations beyond their borders. In other words, placing a region within a wider context can make it possible to understand the changing fate of that region, and this in itself becomes the region's feature,” British geographer Doreen Massey was quoted as saying in curator Cha Seung-joo’s note on the exhibition.

"Red Soap 1" and "Red Soap 2" by Kwon Eun-bi at Arko Art Center in Jongno-gu, central Seoul (Park Yuna/ The Korea Herald)

Artist Kwon Eun-bi has been interested in a variety of issues such as capital, politics, society and colonization with the theme of the social role of art and has collaborated with local residents. The artist’s participatory art created with migrant women in South Korea is on display at the exhibition hall titled “Red Soap 2.”

In the soap-making process, the women talk about their feelings of anxiety and moments in their lives that they wanted to overcome. Their narratives of settling down in a new country are written on pieces of paper that are on display at the exhibition along with the bars of soap, to raise awareness among viewers of the struggles migrants face in Korea.

"Lonely Trees" by The Rojava Film Commune at Arko Art Center in Jongno-gu, central Seoul (Park Yuna/ The Korea Herald)

Also on display is the film “Lonely Trees” by the Rojava Film Commune. A collective of grassroots filmmakers founded in 2015, the group is based in Rojava, a de facto autonomous region in northeastern Syria. The 43-minute film describes the long tradition of oral histories in the Euphrates region, focusing on Kurdish people and their folk music as a means to protect their identity.

The exhibition accompanies a program “Locality Recipe Workshop” curated by Small Batch Studio, a Seoul-based studio run by food experience designer Kang Eun-kyung. One can share their local recipe on the website named “Seoul Locality Recipe” where people can upload drawings of food, which can be created on the website, and memories about the food. Among the recipes is “Bryndzove Pirochy,” traditional dumplings from Slovakia.

The exhibition is free of charge and runs through Jan. 23.

By Park Yuna (yunapark@heraldcorp.com)