The Urban Spectres

‘Spectres’ — the past that has an impact on the present but cannot be captured; something haunting you in a subtle way. According to Asian Confucianism, spectrality is to ask the present to take the responsibility for the past. At the 16th international architecture exhibition of Venice Biennale 2018, the Korean pavilion has set Spectres of the State Avant-garde as their theme. It is a collaboration between KECC’s (Korea Engineering Consultants Corp.) constructions during Korea’s 1960s modernization and contemporary interpretations of that project by vibrant Korean artists and architects.

Different from the avant-garde over Europe, the US and Japan, the historic background of Korea had urged Korea’s modernity to meet the practical needs of the development plans being carried out by the technocratic military regime, and combat socialism to build a nation-state.

Aware of it or not, the city we are living in today still contains history. We might not be the ones who saw history happen, but we could not escape from the influence it has brought us. The struggles KECC faced during the reorganization of the urban spaces in 1960s are still experienced by our new generation today.

About this complex founded by the rapid development of the society, what do our artists say? What sparks does it create when the present meets the past?

Urban Memory_Seoul by Aeng La
I draw the city where I live now. 
I draw the disappearing urban landscape with traces of time, the landscapes of the city where people live, people who live in the city. 
Houses and alleys with traces of time and disappearing, the landscapes of the city where people live, people who live in the city, my hometown, travel, my day to day life, everything gives me inspiration.

Based in Cheongju, the architect/artist Aeng La creates collections of urban sketches — Urban Memory — to portray rare parts of Korea’s cities where traditional houses meet modern skyscrapers. La’s drawings, in a simple and precise manner, capture the paradoxical backdrop in the modern society.

Explore Aeng La’s Urban Memory collections at:

<Urban Disaster> Size of Death by Lee Lee Sang
Now, from the ward, I still get the feeling trapped in stereotypes is a closed ward. My thoughts are buried in stereotypes, One thing is not free…The cause was not resolved, but at that moment, I felt a feeling of liberation from reality.

Through his collection <Urban Disaster>, Lee Lee Sang combines flower images with urban scenery. The unrealistic ratio between the sizes of the plant and the buildings delivers a sense of fear. Despite its gentle pure presence, the giant chrysanthemum (which symbolizes death in Korean culture) sits on the city as if death is inviting it. Modern people face disasters they create on a daily basis, yet without any consciousness. To Lee, modernism is a catastrophe; the funeral is yet to come.

See more artworks by Lee Lee Sang at:

There is no place like home by Seungmin Lee
‘Home’ is meaningful when a person lives.

The melancholy towards our modern city is shared by another emerging artist Seungmin Lee. The printmaking art piece by Lee portrays her memories and delivers her definition of home in the modern world. In this hustle and bustle city, the artist wishes to find peace but in vain. In an expressive style, Lee makes good use of the medium and blends together layers of subtle images which are generated from her impression on her home city, Seoul. Her narration is powerful and inspirational.

Check out Seungmin Lee’s artist page at:

Buzzing Art, Budding Artists.