ACC Groundbreaking with Song Hyo Sang at Kunsthalle

By Doug Stuber

The Asian Cultural Center, seemingly decades in the making is finally lining up the shovels in Kunsthalle to prepare for an official groundbreaking. Well, they’ve been breaking, shoveling and moving earth at the site for a long time now, but it’s “official” now that the bid-winning architect, Song, Hyo Sang gave a speech on Thursday March 17 that outlines his explanation of why he designed the place, and how he accommodated the old and the new buildings of Provincial Hall into the plans after a year-long protest saved the newer, less architecturally interesting building.

At the time, protesters, many of whom lost friends in the newer building, said they would camp out there until they either died when the bulldozers came, or the city/state/Seoul governments changed their minds. It was really all up to Seoul, and thank God they saw reason.

One would immediately ask this question: why so long? The answer involves Seoul as well. Funding for the AC C and its seven auxiliary venues around Gwangju has been cut, and trimmed and hacked until now all seven of the outside attractions (which would have beautified AND given economic stimulus to many parts of town) also caused the slowest of slow construction processes. Finally the cranes are within view, but the ACC could not afford to hire enough construction workers to get this project done in one, or even two years. It’s been seven years since downtown merchants lost their sacred spots for this building, and most of them must be pretty fumed by now.

The design itself has a LOT of outdoor components like a neat light forest in which walkers will inadvertently trip LED displays…some of which are remarkably fashions like mini pyramids. Architecturally the reference is the Louvre, in the real world, those same pyramids, which adorn Home Plus and the US dollar should also remind viewers of who is in charge (the illuminati, and it’s underlings the Freemasons have long used this symbol to express its hope that all members are getting a “square deal”).

Please find two clips from his speech (Hangul practice anyone?) and photographs taken form a cell phone (sorry, not my usual quality, as this press conference was stumbled upon while sipping coffee across the triangle (I liked the circle better).
One student of mine said Gwangju would draw more people and be better off if it built a Lotte-World style amusement Park. For ten seconds I was fumed (being a hack artist myself) then I realized the young man was right. I doubt the ACC, except for occasional monster exhibits, will draw a lot of visitors to Gwangju, especially from Seoul and overseas. It will provide 15-20 PhD level curators with jobs, and some administrative assistants will be worked-to-death for 1.5 million Won per month, but the local ARTISTS, who are probably frothing at the mouth for a chance to have their work SHOWN at the ACC, are going to have to be both politically connected, AND well known already to get a shot. So, how does this differ form say, the wonderful GMA we already have?

Well it’s scope, of course. It portends to be the ASIAN Cultural Center, meaning we can expect super art, dance, performance art, music, poetry slams, concept installations, video art, Cristo-like wrappings and even fly-overs from the Black Eagles once this things comes to fruition. Once is an extremely long word in this case.

Or, the ACC can become a depository of one work from every artist in Asia. Oh no, that’s a dream, because the buildings themselves are more laid out for administrative workers than ART.

The winning architect, being Korean, beat out more famous designers from abroad, but his plans, like the awe-inspiring downtown soccer field, enlarge the concept of ART to include SPORTS, which, of course, the ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism doesn’t mind at all.

With literally hundreds of Gwangju visual and performing artists starving, I am anticipating the ACC’s weekly if not monthly efforts to give those WHO CAN’T afford the two million Won per week gallery fees a chance to show their work for FREE at a quality museum. The GMA, in all its progressiveness, still hasn’t found a way to reach out to these folks effectively. I doubt it’s the ACC’s mission to seek out and find such artists. After all, some may not be “up to snuff,” and others may be great but not well known.

If the ACC does ignore and otherwise “not find the time” to include Gwangju’s hidden yet hard-working artists, they are not to be blamed. It is not their mission. Yet, the building, with all its fanfare and community anticipation, will then serve a second purpose: to remind local artists that they are not “good enough” to do anything but trip a light or kick a soccer ball around a new part of downtown.

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