East Contemporary

F1963 muticultural complex, Busan

Busan, http://www.f1963.org

A wire factory reconstructed as a multicultural complex. A nice place to hang out for everyone. Nice architecture. The biggest floor space was taken up by a large cafe. The surrounding area contained enough land for future development… we all know how it goes… Build a nicely designed culture space in a converted factory… wait until popularity rises while holding onto the surrounding land… build nice design apartments once the area has risen in value.

Visiting this place made me think I actually saw very few of this kind of spaces in Korea. In fact, it is rather unique in the Korean context. The preferred model in Korea seems to be the greenfield approach, simply tearing down the old and building a purpose-build designer museum architecture. This is very different from China, Taiwan or Hong Kong, where the conversion of industrial spaces seems to be the norm and not the exception. Often also with a undertone of preserving the industrial heritage. I wonder why it is different in Korea?

In terms of art, what was on show was an approachable “people’s selection”, ranging from a fine art-design show at Gallery Kukje (local branch of one of the oldest and well known commercial galleries in Seoul), to a design-art show at Hyundai Motorstudio (art space sponsored by a car producer belonging to one of the big Korean conglomerates), to a traditional Korean paper doll show by some handicraft association in a multi-functional space.

When I found out that the Costco next door only accepts credit cards issued by Hyundai Corporation (and another part of the Hyundai conglomerate happens to be also a builder/developer), it dawned on me that maybe… the whole area including surrounding land is associated with Hyundai and befriended companies? Who knows? But it is for sure that conglomerates (chaebols) run South Korea.

Ugo Rondinone sculpture in front of a nice little bamboo forest that is part of the complex:

Sound of Architecture installation, a collaborative project of Italian students and Riccardo Blumer/Dong Joon Lee. The “sound” could unfortunately not be heard.

A bit more of bamboo forest in front of Kukje Gallery.

The main building complex of F1963.

Julian Opie eyecather.

Modernist-style minimalist pond structure. (There was a waterfall too.) Lot of steel/concrete combination, pointing to the origins of the place as a cable factory and the importance of the steel industry in south South Korea.

Overall a nice relaxed place worth a visit, have a coffee or a craft beer. Regarding art… it depends. There are basically only two institutions whose combined floor space cannot complete with the floor space of the gastronomic section. See the separate upcoming reports on  “Joseon Tongsinsa Festival Special Exhibition” at F1963 Seokcheon Hall, Na Kim “Easy Heavy” at Kukje Gallery and “Where is my friends home” at Hyundai Motorstudio.

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