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Culture

Public art set to line banks of the Han River

July 12,2018
The installation “Han River Fishing Vessel, STORY 3_SEA OF SPRING” involves a cherry tree planted within a scrapped fishing boat to reflect the Han River’s natural changes and historical significance. [HANGANG ART PARK]

The Han River is getting an artistic makeover with 37 new installation art pieces created by Korean and foreign artists, the Seoul city government announced on Wednesday. The works will be unveiled on Aug. 25, it said.

All 37 artworks are categorized under the four main motifs of “vibrant,” “relaxed,” “exciting” and “secretive,” and will be installed in strategic locations around the parks along the Han River to convey their messages most effectively.

“First and foremost, the artworks are installed for public use,” says Eun Byeong-su, executive director of the installation project. Other than being artworks for visual appreciation, a good portion of the pieces serve as resting spots for visitors to relax, he said.

For example, Chilean artist Ivan Navarro’s work titled “RAIN or SHINE” is a parasol-like installation for viewers to hide from the blazing sun, but with eight neon letters connected to lights placed within the structure. Korean artist Park Ki-won’s “Meditation Void” involves a levitating platform for passerbys to sit on in order to preserve the grass beneath it.

Balancing between the river’s scenery and their visual elements, numerous artworks celebrate and utilize the natural and historical significance of the river. Korean artist Kwon Osang’s “New Structure - Hangang,” is inspired by both the reflections of light on the river’s surface and the various animals that dwell within the river’s vast habitat.

Artist Ji Yong-ho’s “White Bear” is a highly detailed sculpture of the white bear made out of used tires, which will be installed under the Hangang Railway Bridge to symbolize the river’s might as a force of nature.

On the other hand, “Han River Fishing Vessel, Story_3_SEA OF SPRING” by Sim Hee-jun and Park Su-jeong uses a scrapped fishing boat to capture the river’s once vibrant history as a local fishing spot and an important trading route.

The Seoul city government received ideas for the art projects from citizens. For example, “Night Rainbow” by Heo Su-bin is an installation of seven different colored lights illuminating the piers of the Dongjak Bridge. The piece was inspired by a citizen’s wish to “see a rainbow at the Hangang River during nighttime.”

Artists wish to serve the local community by fostering direct interaction with the citizens. “The Han River has existed for thousands of years. Unfortunately, citizens have been cut off from the full pleasures the river brings due to previous construction and development,” says Eun. “We hope the artworks will provide an artistic environment for the river that citizens haven’t experienced before.”

BY CHANG JAE-HA [estyle@joongang.co.kr]

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