Posted : 2008-04-04 17:30
Updated : 2008-04-04 17:30

Foreign Artists Share Insights on Life, Seoul

This lightbox is part of Marianne Csaky's ‘Time Leap: Summer series’ on display at the National Art Studio, Changdong, Seoul. / Courtesy of Marianne Csaky

By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Staff Reporter

Any foreigner who lives in Seoul knows how exciting, and often difficult, it is. Artists Marianne Csaky, Uji Handoko and Joerg Obergfell, who have been living and working at the National Art Studio in Changdong, Seoul for the past three months, are no different.

Their experiences living in Seoul can be seen in the exhibition ``Me, myself and city," which ended Friday (April 4). The week-long exhibition was the culmination of their three-month residency at the studio, which is run by the National Museum of Contemporary Art. The artists' works reflect their philosophy towards art and life, with a hint of Korean flavor.

Csaky, a Hungarian artist based in Brussels, created sexually explicit and provocative photographs and installation pieces. The ``Time Leap" series is about her attempt to define her identity by looking into her family and her past.

``This is about memory and reflection," Csaky told The Korea Times, as she showed her works, which combine photography, video, sculpture and installation.

Csaky used glass photo negatives, which originally belonged to her grandfather, in her work. One of her pieces shows a naked Csaky in a sexual position with pink silk cutouts on top of the image. The photograph is taken from a video she took two years ago while the silk cutouts are silhouettes of her mother, grandmother and herself as a child, taken from old family photographs.

``The photograph has two time layers, past and present. My main concept is everything that happens to you during childhood can come together and build your present personality. In this case, the prints express the sensitive subjectivity of early childhood. How I act now is a result of my childhood," she said.

The ``light boxes" have images that appear and disappear, depending on one's perspective. ``I want to express by this installation the very unstable and shifting nature of our memories. Memories are not about the facts. Memories remind us of the past," she said.

Csaky also included some of her old works, including a series of wooden chopping boards featuring sexually explicit images. ``For me, the erotic images are a kind of metaphoric reference to all kinds of desire, not just sexual desire," she said.

On the other hand, Handoko, an Indonesian urban artist also known as Hahan, created images taken from his experience living in Seoul during the cold winter months. Being from tropical Yogyakarta, he had some difficulty adjusting to sub-zero temperatures.

``In Indonesia, we don't have winter. This is my first, and my first experience of Korean urban life. Much of my work is about my life here, with the snow and cold weather. I have many stories about urban, such as the subway," Handoko told The Korea Times.

Handoko's series of works, ``Winter Collection," reflect his culture shock and search for identity in a foreign city. Witty, humorous but sometimes sarcastic pieces such as ``You need winter clothes, tropical boy" and ``bus number 1138 and 1127" depict Eko's daily life in Seoul.

``I'm inspired by comic books, youth culture and street style," Handoko said. His drawing style is based on the ``underground lowbrow movement" that was popular in Los Angeles in the late 1970s.

Lastly, Obergfell, a German artist, created 3-D installation works for his ``Adaptation Series." ``Fearless Luxury" shows a tree branch with buildings made of cardboard clippings, while ``a flying bat" has blinking eyes powered by a solar panel installed under the gallery lighting. His photo series shows the artist, dressed in a black costume, on top of several sculptures around Seoul.

For information about residency applications at the National Art Studio, visit or call (02) 995-0995.
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