“The exhibition proposes a new definition of what an “other space” might be: a place to build a different, desirable future with new ways for humans to relate to each other and their surroundings.” These are the notes on No Space, Just a Place, an innovative new Gucci project curated by writer and curator Myriam Ben Salah and designed to celebrate and preserve Seoul’s local art scene, which has been hit hard by almost two months of total lockdown.
Housed in the city’s Daelim Museum (but also available to view via a virtual 360-tour), the exhibition takes inspiration from underground venues throughout art history, which have challenged mainstream galleries and the art system more generally through political, experimental work. Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele has also been musing on the idea of eterotopia (or “other spaces”) and essentially using this period of global unrest as an opportunity to rethink the way we interact with art and gallery spaces altogether.
These ideas have fused into the three-floor exhibition, which gives a series of independent galleries a space within the museum to muse on mythologies, the near future and ideas of interaction, identity and utopia. From Sungsil Ryu’s installations on artificial paradise to space illi’s Swimming QFWFQ*, which gathers the work of women artists deconstructing societal definitions of “natural”, the gallery’s installations are as immersive and conceptual as they are mesmerising to watch.
To round off the project, Salah also asked artists Meriam Bennani, Olivia Erlanger, Cecile B. Evans, Kang Seung Lee and Martine Syms to take inspiration from fantastic mythologies. The results are playful but politically resonant, interrogating notions of migration, borders and even what it means to be human. Erlanger seized the opportunity to create a laundromat filled with mermaid tales, whereas Lee created a wallpaper installation dedicated to the personal histories of South Korea’s queer communities, all too often forgotten within mainstream media.
Although the exhibition is comprehensive and wide-ranging, there’s a utopian bent linking the work, which indicates that the art world will continue to respond to crisis with innovation. At Gucci, Alessandro Michele has succeeded in using his platform to spotlight complex discussions around gender politics, societal norms and even transhumanism. No Space, Just A Place is a fascinating, innovative extension of these themes, which also happens to spotlight the rich cultural history of a city aiming to keep its art scene alive post-lockdown.
No Space, Just A Place is open at the Daelim Museum until 17th July 2020.
Take a 360-degree tour of the exhibition here.