Posted : 2012-11-22 16:33
Updated : 2012-11-22 16:33

Experience playtime through art

"Um thinking" by Sung Neung-kyung / Courtesy of Cultural Station 284

By Rachel Lee

It's the ultimate experience for those in Seoul seeking the unusual, different and quirky.

"PLAYTIME," an experimental art project, provides the most adventurous playground at Cultural Station 284, located in the heart of the city.

Hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the six-week-long event kicked off last Saturday at the century-old building that the government transformed into an art gallery in August. This is the second art project since its restoration.

"This project questions the difference between time in art and everyday life so it approaches the audience as something unique and different from other forms of entertainment," Kim Sung-won, art director of the project, told reporters. "I thought we could see lots of different points of view if artists from not just only contemporary art but also other genres come and work together."

"The other side of the other side" by Jun So-jeong is being performed at the experimental art project "PLAYTIME." It runs through Dec. 28 at Cultural Station 284 in Seoul. / Courtesy of Cultural Station 284

Inside a gallery on the first floor, a man is passionately tap-dancing on a wooden panel. Titled "Massage Station," Korean tap dancer Cho Sung-ho looks as if he is trying to heal the minds of the audience with his rhythmic movement. At the same time, in another hall filled with colorful decorations on the same floor, artist Hong Yun-jeong is giving a tarot card reading.

According to the organizers, the project inspired by Jacques Tati's film "Playtime" (1967), is like an experimental process rather than an archetypal "here and now," so it asks questions rather than providing answers. Distinctive performances by 55 artists working in a wide range of genres such as art, music, dance, theater, film, literature, design and architecture simultaneously take place till Dec. 28.

The event comprises of five sections: "Rehearsal," "Exercise of Doing," "PLAYTIME Art School," "The Waiting Room of Espiteme," and "Theater of Sands," designed by Kim and four other curators, Kim Hee-jin, Ahn Eun-me, Kim Hyun-jin and Kim Hae-joo.

"Sound Station" by An Young-jun

"Rehearsal" explores repetitive time without beginning or end. Its curator Kim Sung-won said repetitive time in a rehearsal is a "time of experiment and process rather than incompleteness, instability and mistakes." The section brings a total of 14 artists working in music, dance, literature, design, fine arts and video. Such performance as "Seoul Mating" by poet Sim Bo-seon and Kim So-yeon, "Welcomeback" by Kim Cho-sil and "Performance Research Lab No.2" by designer Kim Hwang are being shown.

The majority of people in Korea are familiar with the advertising copy "Shut up and do," which suggests they are somehow losing confidence in what they are doing and asking what, how, and why they are doing it. Kim Hee-jin shows this concern through "Exercise of Doing," which presents various interpretations of "doing" by 14 artistic groups and individuals. Works like Kim Sang-don's "The Wind Rises" and Im Heung-soon's "Flying Plate" will draw particular attention at the event, according to Kim.

"Massage Station" by Cho Sung-ho

In "PLAYTIME Arts School," designed by Ahn, 10 artists discuss and learn about the results their work produces. It includes "Sleeping Station" by Bae Hyo-sub, "WiFi Station" by Ha Ji-hye and "Play Station" by Kim Hye-kyoung.

Composed of eight contemporary art, dance and architecture works, "The Waiting Room of Episteme" is a stage where participating artists interpret traditional culture in contemporary ways. It includes pieces by choreographer Lee Yang-hee, architect Choi Choon and dancer Cha Jae-min.

There is no stage, fixed seat or wall in the "Theater of Sands," curated by Kim Hae-joo. It is a place where the audience can see a variety of theater performances that constantly question the meaning of time in art. Artists such as Choi Chi-eon, Chang Young-gyu and theater group Sungbookdong Beedoolkee will present their own interpretations of the theme.

The whole concept may sound difficult for many visitors to understand but performances, including "(Off) Stage" by Siren Jung Eun-young in which actress Cho Young-sook sings "pansori," traditional Korean vocal and percussional music, are easy to follow. Cho is registered as one of the nation's intangible cultural assets.

"It's the ultimate playground in Seoul. We are offering new ways of playing with time through art forms. I hope everyone visiting our exhibition enjoys this unusual playtime but hope they don't try to understand every single performance here," Kim Sung-won said.

The project runs through Dec. 28 at Cultural Station 284. Entrance to the exhibition is free of charge. For more information, visit or call (02) 3407-3500.

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