24 Mar 2011 — 24 Apr 2011

 Duegyoung Lee's page
Duegyoung Lee

Gallery 2 is pleased to present Superblock, an exhibition of new photographic works on Gangnam district in Seoul by Duegyoung Lee, who has looked through the peculiar visual qualities of Seoul originated from its condensed urban growth from various perspectives in motion.

Lee already took pictures of 69 kiosks along Han River on a bicycle (69 Kiosks, 2006) and 25 bridges across the same river on a helicopter at height of 1km in a strictly scientific way (25 Bridges, 2008). Also, he made an extremely long photograph stretching 87m out of approximately 13,000 images of the southern and northern banks of Han River from Misari to Gimpo Bridge, about 48km in between, captured on a cruise boat, a cleaning boat, or a civil service boat (Two Faces, 2010). Last year, the artist finally made a dash at the icon of economic growth in Gangnam district with his project, and from which is developed as a sort of spin-off. For this new work to be presented in Gallery 2, the artist photographed several crossroads around Gangnam district on a helicopter.

These photos are remarkable in that they evoke the past and present of Gangnam district and its development process started from the late-1960s. Gangnam district, which had been no more than wasteland in the mid-1960s, began to be urbanized in wave of population explosion and urban expansion of Old Seoul area, so-called Gangbuk district. [Literally, Gangnam means ‘south of Han River’ and Gangbuk ‘north of Han River.’] Only after two decades, in the late-1980s, it was completely built up as new urban center as we see today. One of the accelerating factors was Seoul-Busan Expressway opened up in 1970. The Metropolitan Government initiated the land readjustment project and designated Seocho neighborhood as the 1st Yeongdong development zone and Gangnam neighberhood as the 2nd one, both of which were adjacent to the Expressway. The Government bought land in the region at a huge discount and started the Gangnam development plan. As it was somehow an urgent political project, the Government preferred ‘all-at-once’ approach to ‘one-after-another’ way. As a result, an area of 30,000,000㎡ was roughly planned as several huge blocks at a stroke, and those blocks were chopped into smaller pieces and sold away. This is the genesis of Superblocks in Gangnam district. The spatial texture folded and hidden behind the orderly zoning structure represents the complicated history of development in Gangnam district.

Lee scrupulously researched and made a plan to photograph the crossroads directly on them via a helicopter, in order to flatten the strange landscape emerged out of the huge skyscrapers facing the street and the dwarfs entangled each other behind them. It had some requirements: first, launching a helicopter is permitted only on a weekend, for Gangnam district is near to Seoul Air Base in Sungnam where the Air Force has training exercises on weekdays; second, the plane trees flourish along the street, blocking the camera’s view, so winter is the best choice; and third, buildings can cast disturbing shadows, so you need some clouds. Waiting for ideal weather conditions, the artist talked to a helicopter pilot about the situation in advance, and repeatedly made an appointment and cancelled it according to the weather report. Finally, one day when it was drizzling from dawn, Lee got elated and went photographing.

Visualizing the Superblocks in Gangnam district as a pixel image like a computer circuit, the artist paid attention to the crossroad as an intersection of those adjoining Superblocks. It is a crucial axis for us to recognize our current position as well as an important place where we gather and scatter. Seeing the photos mapped in a new way in the exhibition space, the audience looks for what they can recognize and finds out something unexpected, carrying out a sort of cognitive mapping and naturally reinterpreting the works. Through their different responses according to individual knowledge and experience, Duegyoung Lee’s works go beyond the artist’s own representation of the history of Gangnam development and acquire an artistic significance as well as inter-subjective communications.
Installation view