Howon-Dong, by Hosang Park
We’re still unwinding from the Hey, Hot Shot! (volume iv, edition ii) opening at the gallery last Friday night, where we were lucky to have four of the five Hot Shots join us from the world over — including Hot Shot Hosang Park who made the long trip from Korea to join us. He arrived at the gallery with his wife and a translator in tow. Warm and charming, they shared plans for their stay in the city, which included fulfilling a lifelong dream for Hosang: visiting MoMA.
It’s a sweet aspiration for a photographer who makes modern, precise portraits of urban parks in Korea. His bird’s eye view allows us to see them as they were conceived, flatly on a two-dimensional plane, as colored-in versions of blueprints. Seeing them from this perspective makes them all the more strange. There are paths that curve, not to get from here to there, but to create the illusion of a greater distance. Trees are planted in rigid grids, barely out-stiffed by benches and stepping stones. Most disturbing of all, there are no people walking, resting, playing basketball or otherwise enjoying the fabricated spaces. The parks resemble board games played only by little plastic cones and cubes, entirely uninhabited by living and breathing humans.
Hosang’s aerial series, A Square, is an amusing cultural critique of the idea of leisure in urban Seoul. The photographs are smart, very smart, and so easy on the eyes. If you’re in New York, see the work for yourself at Jen Bekman Gallery, 6 Spring Street; it’s included in Hey, Hot Shot! (volume iv edition ii) on view until Saturday, February 14th. Everyone else, keep your eyes peeled for a few of these photographers in a future edition of 20×200.
– Sara Lang Distin