As I type these words, I’m listening to G-Dragon’s “Who You?” Despite my fear of hate mail from K-pop fans, I will admit that this is the first time I am intentionally listening to his music. I know little of him—except that he’s part of Big Bang, has great hair and is rumored to hang out at Cakeshop sometimes.
Any time a pop musician takes on the title of artist, it’s hard to take them seriously and that’s my skeptical attitude when I go to the Seoul Museum of Art. Three years after making a song called “Crayon,” he’s now curating an exhibition called “Peaceminusone,” in which he attempts to answer the question “In order for there to be a utopian society, what is missing?” Somewhere out there, Thomas More is turning in his grave but I am trying my best to leave my biases behind. G-Dragon has collaborated with 14 incredibly respected teams (Korean and international alike) to bring his ideas into physical fruition and credit is due to them, too.
There are two reasons to go the exhibition: either you’re a die-hard G-Dragon fan or you’re an art lover capable of disconnecting from the title and theme.
Fans heading there to bask in the aura of the Heartbreaker may feel it best in the room called “the (NON)Fiction Museum.” Created with the artist Fabrikr, the scented and carpeted space gives one the impression of being in G-Dragon’s personal room (cue swooning). Cubes featuring the idol’s face and furniture are paired with pieces from his private collection of art. And if you’ve always fantasized about getting the handsome stud alone in a dark room, there’s Silo Lab and Zizizik’s “Room No. 8” where various screenings of G-Dragon make hand gestures and give you sexy stares. How is this connected to utopias? I’m not really sure, but he does look good.
It’s easier for me to take the approach of an art lover, as that’s closer to the truth. I am relieved to find a few pieces more removed from the artist. Visual artist Sophie Clements has a triptych installation, “There, After,” that shows a series of explosions and asks what brings us and the physical world together. The stairs of the museum are adorned with metal arches and poles built by the architects SoA. Intended to depict the backstage of a concert venue, they are aesthetically pleasing to say the least. Michael Scoggins’ doodles named “Hello, My Friend G-Dragon” are cute and meaningful but in light of recent racism issues in the US, is it really appropriate for G-Dragon to trot out scribblings of “I can’t breathe” and then relate it to lyrics from his music?
“How do you feel about possibly becoming the face of Korean art for some?” I ask G-Dragon (boldly, in English might I add) and I appreciate parts of his answer. “It would be ridiculous for anyone to consider me the face of Korean art. Perhaps K-pop fans will show up, not knowing anything about the art scene here, but if they could walk away exposed to a new idea or introduced to a new artist, that’s all I could hope for.”
He has a nice voice as he talks. Rent an audio guide, turn on the Korean and you can hear the entire exhibition narrated by him (albeit, in English, it will be someone else talking in a very monotonous, droning voice). It is, after all, an exhibition at the Seoul Museum of Art and worthy of attending—even if you’re there just to question whether or not G-Dragon should be seen as an artist.
PS. “Who You?” Surprisingly catchy.