‘Seoul Weather Station’ questions art’s role amid climate crisis
At Art Sonje Center in Jongno District, central Seoul, is an immersive exhibition that contemplates the ongoing climate problems — from the perspective of a rock.
Moon Kyung-won and Jeon Joon-ho, a famous artist duo based in Korea, attempt to search for answers about art’s role in the climate crisis through the exhibition “Seoul Weather Station.” The exhibit is comprised of an immersive installation piece and an open space, each on separate floors of the center.
“We tried to approach carbon issues and climate and look back at how humans have always perceived nature as something to ‘conquer,’” Jeon said during a press preview on Monday. “Then we wanted to look at the situation from a non-human point of view. So to give more objective and some distance, we used artificial intelligence, a robot and a rock — the rock acts like a final witness of humanity.”
The duo’s immersive installation “To Build a Fire” (2022) includes a 15-minute video that stars actor Ryu Jun-yeol alone at sea. The narrative covers the complex history of human evolution, incorporating the ever-arising environmental issues, and ultimately reaches extinction.
While a widescreen displays the short film of Ryu, a yellow four-legged robot named Spot (that is frequently presented by Hyundai) runs around as if intending to lead the narrative. The fluorescent lights of the room flicker on and off, and window blinds in the corner, tinted red, open and close when Spot comes closer.
According to the artists, Spot acts like an explorer and architect as its movements represent recording and gathering evidence for the history of humanity.
Proceeding to the next floor, “Mobile Agora: Seoul Weather Program” (2022) is a platform for experts to share their thoughts and opinions related to carbon policy, global warming and the social role of art.
On this floor are drawings by the duo, including cartoons that dig into numerous topics of urban society. There are also photographs by Ryu, who is also a photographer, that depict a bird’s-eye view or side views of factory buildings. These pieces try to raise awareness about sustainability and the future of humankind.
“The media talks about the environment all the time, but we need to ask ourselves, can life continue on just by our willpower? These issues may not go away immediately, but what is art’s role in all of this? We tried to elicit the many questions that we, as artists, have and aim to introspect on,” Moon said.
“Seoul Weather Station” continues through Nov. 20. Art Sonje Center is open every day except Mondays from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Hours extend to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays. Tickets are 10,000 won ($7.40) for adults.
BY SHIN MIN-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]