I recently had the pleasure of attending an opening reception at the relatively new ‘space O’NewWall’ (오뉴월) concept gallery in Seongbuk-gu, Seoul. The event, a collaborative effort between the Korean National University of Arts and the gallery itself, featured the Berlin-based curatorial group, Temporary Re-Visionists.
In Korean, the name O’NewWall refers to the ardor and bliss of midsummer months, while its Irish-Anglicization produces the meaning ‘Son of New Wall’. Though gallery names can range from obtuse to ostentatious, I find that O’NewWall’s moniker succeeds in harmonizing artistic concept with aesthetic space.
The room itself is modest in size, features a cube-shape, warm-honey floors, and a gorgeous, open window-front. The beauty of the gallery’s location is that it opens up onto a triangular plaza, surrounded by stonewalls and climbing roads. For the purpose of the reception, the cobblestone plaza served as a spatial continuation of the gallery itself, allowing viewer, artist, and curator to mingle uninhibited. Warmed by the glow of the gallery, one can rest on a curb and view the works within, freely engaging in contemplative discourse without losing an aesthetic connection with the space.
O’NewWall’s many curators and contributors were a welcoming crowd, and I had the pleasure of talking candidly with CEO Juno Seo, a number of the space’s collaborators, and featured artist Nicolas Pelzer at an after-event dinner. Seo sees the space as a collaborative laboratory in which exhibitions, workshops, and screenings can link-together diverse mediums, periods, and nations. Pelzer’s work is a site-specific installation that for me exemplified this intent.
A number of tall glass panes situated at the front window of the gallery serve to parallel the viewing experience one encounters at the observatories on the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. The tall panes direct one’s attention in a predestined manner, manipulating visual, and in-turn cognitive, perspective. I found the installation to be thoroughly successful; it plays on the relationship between the enclosed gallery space and its open surroundings in a manner akin to the experience that can be had at the DMZ.
Not only did Pelzer’s work augment my experience of O’NewWall’s space, it heightened my understanding of the Temporary Re-Visionists’ sociopolitical approach: whilst attempting to analyze the archetypes and structures that shape the emerging reality of divided Korea—given the historical backdrop that was similarly-divided Berlin—one can participate in a system of intervention that reflects and mirrors these existing borders, re-visioning one’s own temporary presence in Seoul.
Temporary Re-Visionists: September 17 through October 2, hours 11-19h00, gallery closed Mondays. For additional information on talks, lectures, and screening locations visit www.onewwall.com and www.karts.ac.kr.