SEOUL, Jun. 26 (Korea Bizwire) — A number of South Korean municipal governments are facing criticism for wasting taxpayer money after commissioning public sculptures with controversial designs.
Artworks that were supposed to symbolize local communities and complement nearby buildings are becoming public nuisances, with many pointing fingers at local governments for rushing with public art projects on ill-thought out budgets without garnering enough public support beforehand.
Among the public sculptures lacking a clear message and which, without required maintenance, could have been left as a real eyesore, is Shoes Tree in Seoul, an art installation created from 30,000 pairs of secondhand shoes in front of Seoul Station with the intent of raising awareness of environmental protection and urban regeneration.
Following an onslaught of criticism over its appearance, Shoes Tree was demolished only ten days after it was first installed.
The criticism shows no sign of stopping soon however, as reports have since emerged that nearly 140 million won was spent to move and prop up the short-lived artwork.
Looking down from Seoullo, the much-debated art installment was often criticized for its aesthetically unpleasant appearance, despite the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s well thought-out defense that it was supposed to look like a waterfall made of shoes.
“When Seoul is already a grey looking concrete jungle, (Shoes Tree) does the city no good,” said one Seoulite. “When we can’t avoid looking at it, it mustn’t give displeasure, and should at least have an artistic message,” added another.
Facing similar criticism is the ‘Gangnam Style’ sculpture installed last April in Gangnam.
Standing five meters tall, the sculpture cost around 400 million won, and was modeled after a hand gesture resembling a part of the choreography in Psy’s 2012 international hit, but many believe the idea is cliché and worn-out.
As the problems of ill-thought out public sculptures aren’t just limited to Seoul, with municipalities around the country having spent millions on building nearly 2,000 public sculptures, an official from North Jeolla Province’s Participation Autonomy Institute argues public support and participation are crucial in building public sculptures that can stand the test of time.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)