Monday, January 16, 2006

Heyri Art Valley

Subtopia has a thought-provoking entry on possible future uses for the expansive area along the border between North and South Korea known as the DMZ.

Years of military stand off between the two countries has inadvertently created one of the most serene and well protected nature preserves in Asia. As a peaceful resolution to the Korean conflict becomes more realistic, people from all sides are speculating about how the DMZ might be utilized in the future.

One possible model has already been offered by the Heyri Art Village in Paju, along the southern border of the DMZ. A community of artists, writers, architects and musicians, Heyri's goal is to foster a cultural community in which residents collaborate to create their own environment for producing and exhibiting their artwork. The community of several hundred artists will eventually feature museums, galleries, theaters, bookstores, and workshops. Each home will also be a place of cultural exchange of some form, with the goal that the entire community will contribute to and participate in the cultural dialogue.

Presently, Heyri already has over 370 citizens and is continuing to grow. But this isn't your 1960's hippie collective - the buildings are explicitly modern in their design, the community will be wired throughout for high speed data, and the master plan includes the latest in ecodesign techniques to conserve the surrounding environment. The community also does not hide its commercial interests, as all of Heyri's artists are able to make their work available for sale to visitors.

Whether Heyri will succeed in creating a cultural capital from the ground up remains to be seen. However, it certainly demonstrates the potential for North and South Korea to attempt visionary, daring new projects along this political frontier.

An outdoor performance at Heyri

An example of one of the live/work artist spaces.

The Hanhyanglim Gallery serves as gallery space, an art shop, and a cafe.

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