Established in 2010, Philosophizing Artist is an artists’ cooperative that aims to solve arts graduates’ uncertainties about their careers and the type of art they should pursue. Initially formed by university students majoring in the arts, the organization now consists of artists who have just graduated from university.
Philosophizing Artist pursues art that stems from philosophical thinking. To do so, it holds humanities forums where arts graduates gather and study topics such as eastern philosophy. Discussions in the forums sometimes generate ideas leading to the start of arts projects.
“Participants in the forums are usually serious about their careers in the arts,” said Park Min-hee (’12, Painting), the representative of Philosophizing Artist.
Although the members are from different majors, they have built a tight network. In fact, projects such as One Second Before Disposal or the Done and Interactive Film Festival (DAIFF) started from networks that developed in the forums.
In addition to academic activities, Philosophizing Artist hosts cultural events in which it pursues its goal of creating art for the general public.
“Members of our organization try to produce art that is easy to relate to,” Park said.
“Linker: Sinchon Art Festival,” an event held on the streets of Sinchon, is one example. The organization had planned projects ranging from musicals to exhibitions of emerging artists. The performance Musical Noble Campus was the most popular among the projects. A musical about the hardships of university students, Musical Noble Campus presents issues such as unemployment based on the script, songs and dances created by amateurs.
“We were surprised when pedestrians started to gather to watch our performances,” Park said. “Seeing them watching our hour-long musical was overwhelming.”
Philosophizing Artist has also raised awareness of the difficulties faced by arts graduates. Since 2012, it has hosted One Second Before Disposal, an exhibition consisting of artworks by artists whose art are on the brink of disposal. The works of such artists have been displayed in parades moving down the streets of Hongdae and in exhibitions at the National Assembly.
“The demand for art in Korea is low, causing difficulties for artists to sell or exhibit their works,” Park explained. “Many of them agonize over discarding their unsold artworks. We decided to raise people’s awareness about this situation.”
People’s response to these displays was better than the members had expected. In fact, people started to request additional parades.
“People found the wagon filled with artworks at the beginning of the performance very memorable,” Park said. “It was interesting for them to watch a wagon piled with nearly obsolete artworks moving down the streets of Hongdae.”
Despite the pleasure of partaking in various meaningful projects, the lack of funding for the arts presents challenges to the organization.
“We recently moved to a new office, and the members had to donate what little they had,” Park said. “Making our cooperative self-sustainable is both a challenge and a goal.”
Nevertheless, a recent program that the members participated in strengthened them to continue their work. In 2014, Philosophizing Artist began to offer free arts classes to residents in Seodaemun-gu. The session on self-portraits especially inspired the residents.
“During our session on self-portraits, one woman remarked that she had not had time to look at her face closely due to her hectic life,” Park said. “This made me realize that we should continue offering art classes to residents to help them value themselves.”
Currently, Philosophizing Artist plans to reach out to the community. It hopes to create art allowing the artists and spectators to communicate.
“We hope Koreans will be relaxed enough to appreciate art,” Park said. “If people’s basic concerns are resolved, they will be able to have leisure time and develop hobbies. Then, art will become something that everyone can enjoy.”