The objects I photograph in this series are small parks located in living spaces in downtown Seoul. I concentrated on images taken from a bird’s-eye view. I did not focus on relating special stories about these parks, but rather on presenting the physical spaces.
The Square series probably began in the place where I live now. My hometown is Samcheonpo in Kyungnam, South Korea, where the sea is always visible and the rate of forestation is high. When I moved to the thirteenth floor of Jugong Apartment in Chang-dong, Seoul, I became interested in how parks and neighborhood resting places worked in a big city which didn’t have much natural forest.
It is hard to define the square as a courtyard or a garden. Technically, it resembles an agora or a park in ancient Greece. The square can also refer to a small resting place or a central park serving surrounding urban apartment complexes. As I use it, the word “park” indicates a small space. The squares are small parks in a quadrangle shape or an undefined open space. The atmosphere is similar to that of a park but the square’s usage and size are sharply different from those of a traditional park.
It is hard to have conversations or take a rest in the squares. There is something foreign and exotic about these redeployed green spaces designed to create the atmosphere of a park. For modern people who are pressed for time and space, taking a rest in small downtown area doesn’t seem to have any meaning at all. From a bird-eye’s view, the trees and resting places, spotted between bleak concrete and architectural structures, are reminiscent of Lego models. The squares are dystopian in reality, but people won’t admit it.
The squares photographed from a bird’s-eye view, reflect the characteristics of downtown areas and their distorted realities. Originally designed for public health, rest, and play, the squares are increasingly being used for the accumulation of capital or commercialization. The photographs also reveal, in a more comic way, the character of fabricated Korean-style spaces and the stark realities of democracy.
Hosang Park was born in 1977 and now lives and works in Seoul. In 2004, he received his B.A. from the fine art photography department at Sangmyung University in Cheonan, South Korea, and in 2009 he received his M.F.A. from the fine art photography department at Sangmyung University’s Graduate School of Art and Design. He has focused on creating works that depict spaces representing particular Korean characteristics that are sometimes deemed too ordinary to be noticed by people. Recently working with a large eight-by-ten format camera, he has been exploring the relationship between creation and destruction in urban spaces.
He has participated in a number of solo and group exhibitions in a wide variety of galleries and institutions. Solo shows include A Square (2009), Jen Bekman Gallery, New York City; Scenery in a Small Park
(2008), Hyundai Department Store, Gallery H, Seoul; and A Square
(2007), Hakgojae Gallery, Seoul. Recent group exhibitions include Animism
(2013), Ilmin Museum of Art, Seoul; and Korea Power – Design and Identity
(2013), Museum für angewandte Kunst Frankfurt, Germany.