It’s been nearly two months since I’ve written something here. I’ve been anxious, confused, even angry, but most of all quite enlightened by my own darkness. Something about wintertime in Seoul has really affected me. Perhaps it’s the early sunsets and the indecisive flurries, two culprits one is quick to judge, but I have a feeling it has something to do with the overuse of heating systems, the underuse of running shoes, and the unbelievable amount of cheese one person can consume just to feel something deep down in his gut. I’ve had my fair share of cold sweats these past few weeks, but I’ve been shaken awake.
This year I’ve decided to shift the focus of this site. No longer will I only post about my experiences in the Korean art world; I plan to write about anything and everything art-related that sparks interest in me. Too often do I attend an exhibition and not feel obliged to write something about my experience. It’s difficult for me to butter and sugar my work, to make false emotion ooze from nothing. And it’s difficult for me to feel so boxed in, focused so intently on a specific place at a specific time of year. I started this site because I love to write (and occasionally accidentally rhyme), so that I shall do.
Remember when Ai Wei Wei had nine thousand children’s backpacks assembled together in commemoration of those affected by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake? The massive installation was vivid and politically charged. The work, titled Remembering, spelled out the sentence ‘she lived happily for seven years in this world’, quoting a victim’s mother. Local Chinese governments cut corners in the construction of schoolhouses, resulting in their crumbling and the subsequent deaths of thousands. During the aftermath, the investigative work of Ai was crucial in bringing such truths to light. The resulting installation filled the facade of Munich’s Haus der Kunst, drawing much critical attention to the controversy.
Works of art such as Remembering serve to remind us that we are entitled to such knowledge, that sentimentality is not something to fret over when we are deprived of basic rights and freedoms. Ai Wei Wei punctuates the importance of the individual. His art breeds contemplation and breathes a fierce realness into our daily monotony. His use of social media, specifically Twitter, is fundamental to his practice. He is not fighting for fame or glory; he cares about his country, he demands change and transparency. This is the inspiring stuff. This is the stuff that makes your knees do that thing that they sometimes do.
I think I’ve found a suitable replacement for dairy.