“Public Art and Urban Space” From Korea to Cikini

Written by on August 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’ve never been in Korea but I can feel the excitement being there everytime I read some articles or heard people sharing their experiences after visiting beautiful and unique places in Korea. I feel the same way when I came to Visual Documentation /Photography Exhibiton and Presentation, held recently at Multifunction Hall, Korean Cultural Center (KCC) in Jakarta.

"Public Art and Urban Space" Visual Documentation Exhibiton at KCC Jakarta, Indonesia
“Public Art and Urban Space” Visual Documentation Exhibiton at KCC Jakarta, Indonesia

The exhibition and presentation are the brainwork of two Indonesian academicians, Citra Smara Devi and Susi Harahap who just finished their research and observation in three Korea cities; Seoul, Incheon and Paju Heyri Art Valley. Citra and Susi are lecturers of the Faculty of Art and Design at Institut Kesenian Jakarta (IKJ-Jakarta Institute of The Arts). They are selected to visit Korea for research on expense of Korean Cultural Center, followed-up a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by KCC and Institut Kesenian Jakarta on Mei 2014.

The MoU declared cooperation between the two institutions in which KCC facilitating  lecturers from IKJ-Faculty of Art and Design to come and do their research on “public art and urban space” in three cities in Korea. In its press-release, KCC Jakarta said that Seoul, Incheon and Paju Heyri Artvalley were choosen as locations for the the research based on its good potencies on art, culture and tourism. Seoul, for example, received ‘ UNESCO Design Creative City’ award. As an urban city, Seoul is not only implementing a city-based Information Communication and Technology policy, but also put attention on green design on its urban planning.

During their 10-days visit, Citra Smara Devi and Susi Harahap directly observed the development of those three cities by doing visual documentation and analysis some aspects related to the attractiveness of the cities.

The Exhibition and Presentation “Public Art and Urban Space Korea” was officially opened by Director of KCC Jakarta, Kim Seokgi and the Head of Institut Kesenian Jakarta, Dr. Wagiono Sunarto, M.Sc.

Public Art in Incheon, Seoul and Paju

I am very impressed seeing visual documentation of public art on urban space in some places in Incheon, such as Canal Walk Song Dong, Mural Fairy Tales village, China Town and Sinpo Market International. Those places look not onlu unique and artistic but also very attractive. I imagine myself enjoying the beauty of art and pleasant atmosphere in those places.

Citra Smara Devi on her presentation said that Incheon is successfully being a modern metropolitan city but still look aesthetical. Local government, added Citra, applying urban planning policies with public space artwork approaches. For instant, Incheon Metropolitan City initiated the creation of Incheon Art Platform (IAP) area, a multiplex cultural arts center. The area once was a harbor warehouse which is not fully utilized. Now, the IAP area in Incheon become a well-known art district in Korea with many activities from art exhibition, art performances, discussion and artists residences from around the world.

Incheon Art Platform (IAP) areas
Incheon Art Platform (IAP) areas

“One of IAP programs that should be appreciated is the concept of street art furniture as a part of spatial development designed by IAP,” said Citra.

“Street art furniture produced various artworks in the form of sculptures and other aesthetic forms, for example the use of plumbing pipes as seats for people who want to rest and relax,” She added.

Beside IAP area, the business district of Songdo is other attractive place in Incheon. Songdo is one of the cities in Korea that is growing rapidly, characterized by the growth of good urban planning combine with aesthetic aspects. That why this city is also known as “ the future of Icheon” because of its futuristic city concept, yet retaining the Go Green concept.

There is an integrated area in Songdong called Canal Walk, it’s a shopping complex with many shops and cafes with attractive design. The function of the buildings, technology and the aesthetic are harmoniously integrated in Canal Walk area.

Incheon also successfully changed its slump areas with high crime rate into a safe place and offer beautiful mural arts. One of famous mural area in Incheon is Mural Fairy Tale Village. The concept of this mural village inspired by characters from fairy tales around the world. The use of bright colours such us red, yellow, orange, blue and green on this mural village make this place very interesting and become a tourist destination in Korea.

Fairy Tale Mural Art Village
Fairy Tale Mural Art Village


China Town
China Town


Sinpo Market International near China Town
Sinpo Market International near China Town

We can find street art, mural and many aesthetical artworks in public spaces in China Town which is also rich of potential various culture and culinary. Not far from China Town there is Sinpo Market International. This century-old traditional market is well-maintained and clean so convenient for visitors.

The concept of go green, public art and aesthetic aspects in urban spaces also implemented in Seoul in different forms on landscapes and architectural masterpieces. In “book city” Paju those concept implemented in Heyri Artvillage. Susi Harahap who did observation and research in Paju said that the village combine agrarian and ecological concept on the basis of art and culture. Heyri Artvillage also become an important and a must-visit tourist destination in Korea.

Paju "Book City"
Paju “Book City”


From Korea to Cikini

As academicians Citra and Susi said that the development and the civilization of the city can be seen from how the growth of public art can increase the function of urban spaces and beautify them aesthetically.

According to them, Institut Kesenian Jakarta actually has already implemented the concept of public art for the public space on new construction and development at its campus area. After visiting Seoul, Incheon and Paju Heyri Artvillage, they admit the need to increase sense of art in creating public spaces, specially in Jakarta, that is not only more attractive but also more comfortable for its citizens.

Director of KCC Indonesia, Kim Seokgi (far right), Citra Smara Devi (far left), Susi Harahap (Centre)
Director of KCC Indonesia, Kim Seokgi (far right), Citra Smara Devi (far left), Susi Harahap (Centre)

As further action of their observation and research in Korea, Citra and Susi recommend Cikini—a small district at downtown Jakarta—to be an “art tourism area” which has similar concept with mural art village or Incheon Art Platform di Korea. They choose recommending Cikini as a pilot project in consideration of its historical background and of its cultural potencies. In Cikini area there are many historical building with art deco-style, galleries, hotels and cafes.

Cikini, according to Citra and Susi, is worthy of being an art tourism area and being tourist destination. It just need structuring and maximum arrangement by using public artworks and maximizing the elements of fine and visual art. So far, those two lecturers from IKJ has discussed the action planning with the head of local district and gain full support. But It takes time to realize their recommendation. Let’s wait and see. []


About the Author

Magdalena Krisnawati

I am Indonesian. I like writing, blogging, taking pictures, and sometimes going to the places where i can ease my mind, get fresh air and new ideas. I am interested in anything about Korea through Korean dramas and its original soundtracks that motivate me to explore Korea and learn Korean language. My blog not only focus on Korea but also how Korea and its hallyu affects many people in my country.