Pyeongchang-dong: Total Museum of Contemporary Art, Gana Art Center

Last weekend I made a trip to visit two galleries in Pyeongchang-dong (평창동) which is on the northern side of Seoul, nestled on the side of Bukhansan (북한산 / 北漢山). I was drawn by a listing for an exhibition on “Vertical Village” which seemed close to my interests, so off we went on this slightly drizzly Sunday afternoon. The area, as we discovered, was amazingly beautiful; largely residental and only low-rise buildings amidst vast mountains and nature. We went to see Total Art Gallery and the large Gana Art Gallery, and which are both in walking distance from each other and are rather beautifully built…

Total Museum of Contemporary Art


First we went to Total Museum of Contemporary Art. It was housed in a huge and oddly shaped building with incredibly odd stairs and other features. It was very empty at the time we went there, but we figured it was because it was a Sunday and the weather was poor. The view of the mountains behind was amazing.



There is something to be said about the setting of this exhibition. It reminded me extremely strongly of Second Life because of the amazingly traditional setting with nature and mountains… and then! Bright geometric blocks strewn all around in the midst of the mountains, on beautiful wooden tiles and clear glass windows and modern western architectures. In the background there is the peaceful sound of crickets (as opposed to the harsh, urban cicada sounds) and the sound of water drops gently tinkling as they fall and hit the ground in this quiet, somewhat posh part of Seoul.

Second Life for me is also filled with picture perfect nature, and then suddenly, someone gets a little lazy and throws some bright coloured cubes in a pile somewhere for no reason. And then some time later you fly right past that sight, and its totally empty but all you can hear is the soundtrack of nature all around you.


9 Television screens showing similar urban architecture in different asian cities.


Block Land


The Desire of Living

How do you want to live? This was the central question that was asked of the interviewees in this great documentary. Various young families speak of their troubles in trying to find a flat in Taipei. The exhibition was originally first held in Taipei.




Vertical Village

The proposition behind this project is simple – why not return to the form of the urban village by having individual house units being added on to the structure rather than building everything all at once as a block? To recreate the urban village through even more mixed use and architectures which allow for individual expression through the dwelling that you build to live in.

I should like to add that a few days later we went to see Total Recall (the new 2012 version that was a loose adaptation from the Philip K Dick story “We can remember it for you wholesale”) and there was also a vertical village featured inside it. I come to recall that the visual reference is also from Bladerunner. There is something about that configuration that smacks of some future utopia/dystopia reality. I wonder, is this why the Kowloon Walled City fascinates me?


Villagemaker Demo on computers inside


The beautiful hills of Pyeongchang-dong

Gana Arts Center


Although I dont have many pictures from Gana as no photography was allowed inside, it is worth a mention because their selection of Korean fine art is utterly impeccable with great care to detail.