Over the Thanksgiving holidays, there was, as usual, a lot of rice cake-mending, dish-washing, drama-watching, and, most of all, eating. But we also went out to see some art at Baekraksa Temple (백락사) in Hongcheon-gun (홍천군) that hosted this year’s Gangwon Environmental Installation Art Invitational Artists Exhibition (2014 강원환경설치미술초대작가전).
When I read “environment”, I thought of art “in the form of large installations or assemblages that surround the observer.” (Oxford Dictionaries) In other words: aesthetic spaces that allow for an immersive experiences. Not completely wrong, but here environment also meant nature, namely the beautiful forest that surrounds Baekraksa Temple. It seems the 60s are over—today environmental art also includes “art that helps improve our relationship with the natural world” (Greenmuseum.org). Some pieces were explicitly about protection, like the large flags made out of recycled cloth banners that greeted us on the way.
While strolling through the beautiful temple grounds and its surroundings, there was a lot to discover. Over a dozen art works, more or less discretely integrated into the landscape: twisted wood, a dead bird in an open grave, mirrors and lamps up in the trees, a stack of bamboo that is not what it appears to be (see video below), a stone walk that makes percussion music when you walk over it, the remainders of a performance in search for nothingness, a wooden lookout that provides an overview of the temple grounds, little plastic bags filled with water hanging around a greenhouse, and much more.
The only obvious thing was this wrapped monument. And the music—American hits from the 50s—that blasted from speakers hidden throughout the place. All in all, it was an interesting temporary re-use of this Buddhist environment and the newcomers did not steal the spotlight from the already existing art works.
These are some of the pieces we discovered, including some stoney statues of Buddha in-between:
김경희 (Kyung hee Kim), 休 (“Rest”)
And this unusual scarecrow waved us goodbye…
— 9 Sept. 2014 (火)