By Curtis File
SEOUL, Sept. 24 (Yonhap) — When the auction begins, Jojae clutches his painting nervously in front of the small crowd before him. Seated in lawn chairs on an overgrown, pothole-ridden lawn, none of the 20 or so attendees utters a peep when the bidding starts at 70 million won (US$62,780)
The tension breaks when a young boy shouts “10,000 won!” The crowd laughs, but this is exactly the point of this afternoon’s “Noitcua,” or auction in reverse. Artists feature their work and interested buyers underbid each other until a final price is settled.
“We came here just to have fun and create an interesting atmosphere,” says Jojae, 29, whose painting ended up selling for 24,000 won. “It’s not meant to be serious; I just wanted to have fun with my art.”
Thanks to Halim, a well-known 36-year-old musician, quirky events like this are becoming more frequent at DoHa. The abandoned military base sits just outside of Seoul, a former home to an emergency bridge services unit. Now it is a sanctuary for the city’s “starving artists.”
Painted rocks on wire stems reach out from the barren gardens of an old administration building, the largest left remaining. Inside and out, its white walls are decorated with murals, canvas paintings, and melted straw sculptures. At the back of the building a small art gallery sits next to a cafe serving Americanos and lemonade.
“Being an artist is not easy in Seoul, it’s a hard life,” says Halim. “We came here because we needed somewhere to go. DoHa’s meaning is ‘across the river,’ so that is where we went.”
Read more at: Artists seek new boroughs in an unforgiving city