Anyone who’s seen the beotkkote (벚꽃, aka cherry blossoms) this last week knows that spring has arrived here in Korea! In this way, too, there is a fresh start with sitecited’s fifth “issue,” in that, for the first time sitecited will be featuring its intended content: supporting through discourse and advocacy as well as funding, the exhibition or distribution of art projects with a special emphasis on site-specific works in and around Seoul. At the start of this web journal in 2011, my aim was to collaborate with artists and writers to help bring focus and attention to these interdependent cultural endeavors. So although it took 10 months for the site to germinate, the wait was well worth it. When Kristina Dziedzic Wright suggested bringing Cynthia Gray’s “don’t give up” project to Korea, in Korean last fall, it was for me as near to perfect a project for sitecited as any could come. The compatibility of Gray’s project with mine goes beyond Dziedzic Wright suggesting a project to feature on the website, but also because her proposal was specific to the Korean context, and it was with Gray’s project, which I have known, loved and distributed. Gray’s “don’t give up” magnets reflect many of the subtler ideas I have about this web journal, including ideas of exchange and interaction. Moreover the collaboration between the three of us: Gray, Dziedzic Wright and myself, has represented a convergence of the past, present and future: Chicago, Seoul, and what is worth striving for next. Therefore, I am thrilled and proud to present Cynthia Gray’s “don’t give up” magnet distribution project in Korean “포기하지마,” as introduced by Kristina Dziedzic Wright’s essay: “The Universal Language of Hope: Cynthia Gray’s ‘don’t give up’ Project in Korea,” on sitecited.
Beyond Gray’s work having relations to site-specific and conceptual art, from the start her “don’t give up” magnets broke away from the cynical reason of the late nineties and offered something else: sincerity. As a distributor of the “don’t give up” magnets since 2007, I’ve come to realize the essence of this project is in the gestures: the giving, the taking and the displaying. All of which involve people and personal interactions, things that in the art world can come at a cost or are the cost of success or notice. Embedded in Gray’s project is the slow build—connections made over time—adding to a stream of interconnectedness between the givers and receivers. Having long ago given up any belief in any god, and then replacing it with a now nearly defunct belief in culture, specifically art, this kind of work does more for my faith in humanity and our culture than most other things. In this way “포기하지마” has personal significance that goes beyond the website, by bringing together disparate threads of my life. I knew when I moved to Korea I was looking for a new challenges, and so it has been for me: an effort to reinvigorating meaning and the imposition to understand culture through shock, juxtaposition and adaptation. Having landed on my feet (once again) I can say that Gray’s “don’t give up” project has been like a low mantra since I came here. The magnets are on the whole an offering, and not a campaign, so I hope that those who come across them here in Korea will take them as such.
In our effort to bring this project to Korea, Dziedzic Wright and I were fortunate to receive the financial support of pianist and Seoul National University Professor of Music, Aviram Reichert, who will, along with Dziedzic Wright and myself, be distributing the magnets in Korea. As an additional way to support the project, and extend its reach Gray sponsored magnets for two friends: Oh Siwang and Park Gunhee, co-owners of Coffee Connexion. They are more than familiar with the ideas of persistence embodied in the concept of “포기하지마,” as they have worked hard to make the most excellent café in Nakseongdae, and perhaps in Seoul.
The free distribution of the magnets through sitecited will be done by self-addressed stamped (830KRW) envelop (SASE) to:
Seoul National University
Bldg. 3, Rm. 201-1
Gwanak-gu, Seoul 151-745
Meaning you send me an envelop with your address and postage and I’ll send you a magnet. Also as part of the project sitecited welcomes recipients to post images of the magnets in situ on Facebook, along with comments. Each week an image from the Facebook posts will be featured here on sitecited.
Another aspect of this new beginning on sitecited is the introduction of a series of interviews with Korean art professionals. Next month I will be publishing the first two: Kim Heejin, director of Pool and a Shin Hyunjin, former curator of Ssmazie Artist Residency. These two are the first of 12, which will include Jung Yeondoo, JoSeub, Gu Minja and Shin Sungran, among others and be published over the next 12 months. Another part of this interview project is that each interview will be published in English and Korean, as will all future posts on sitecited. I look forward to bringing more such focused content to the web in the coming months.
I want to again thank Aviram Reichert for his generosity and interest. I am grateful to Cynthia Gray for trusting me with her project. I can’t thank Kristina Dziedzic Wright enough for her keen interest, daring spirit and for shaking things up around here. Lastly I need to thank Park Gunhee and Oh Siwang for their kindness and the relaxing environment they provide at Coffee Connexion. Please join us there next Monday April 30th at 6:00pm to celebrate the release of “포기하지마.”
Julia Marsh, April 24, 2012