Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Hannam-dong Design Houses

(An art house complete with rubbish at the front door. I wonder if the uncollected garbage is part of the art.)

The title of an article in the Korea Herald last weekend caught my eye: "Art houses stand-out in Hannam-dong".

Hmm.  Art houses in my neighborhood? I didn't know. But thanks to the information in that article which included the addresses of houses, I was able to find them with the help of the local real estate agent.

It was a bitter and cold Sunday afternoon when I found the houses, while carrying the map print-out on my frozen left hand, and my camera on the other. A guy, presumably a staff of the 'Design Korea 2010', saw me as he stood guarding the gate of one of the houses.

The staff initially spoke to me in Korean, but when I blurted, "Is this the design house?", he realized his guest list just became international! Ha-ha-ha!

So, he welcomed me into a house painted in 'sky blue', while the other house in red seemed to be locked. And although there was a guide accompanying me, I felt like I was trespassing into somebody's private property as I entered the house and into the rooms.

With the names of the artists pinned on each door, each room has a different set of drawings, paintings and blown-up photographs. Although the press release said that the 78 artists live in the houses, I wasn't sure it was true when there was hardly a warm bed to survive the night in, nor any semblance of a warm habitat in this freezing weather. The only reminder that somebody must have stayed there was a set of toothbrushes hanging on the wall (I forgot to take note of the toothpaste brand patronized by the artist. Ha-ha-ha!)

Well, the artworks were all interesting and the idea of turning these rooms into a mini-museum was unique. But I wished they should have cleaned out the rubbish outside the main doors before they started inviting people in. There is an ordinance in the Yongsan District against scattering one's garbage on the street. (The artist going to jail? Ha-ha-ha!)

And I wondered why all of these so-called 'design houses' were located next to new apartment buildings being constructed in Hannam-dong, which makes me think this was a marketing ploy to lure visitors (and potential buyers) to also see the new units up for sale. Hmm...

Well, just in case you want to visit these 'design houses', they're all a short walk across the U.N. Village main entrance, and they're open until December 30 of this year.

I wasn't able to meet any of the artists while I was there, but in case you drop by and see one, please remind him or her to clean up their rubbish and drop them somewhere else. Ha-ha-ha!


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