Thursday, October 23, 2008

SEVERE JETLAG, or HOW I STOPPED WORRYING AND ATE KIMCHI

It's 2:35 pm NY time, and like, 3:45 AM Seoul time and I can't sleep. I passed out around 9 out of sheer exhaustion, but now I have the impetus to blog, blog, BLOG.

This morning I woke up anxious and a bit reluctant, afraid of the people on my trip and the weather. I also was incredibly hungry, but no fear, the Hyatt had the best breakfast I may have ever eaten. I could eat breakfast there everyday for the rest of my life. My tum is grumbling just thinking about it.

Here is what is strange about a press trip: you have a group of people that have to stick to an agenda. The group of people is organized by another group of people. The agenda is immutable. The organizing group often has to heard the agenda group, which makes it feel like a large, adult field trip. This makes it feel less like being in another country and more like being an ornery kid, who simply wants to view the Gilbert and George and is only feigning interest in the floor of very similar, teal-painted traditional Korean pottery.

The architecture in this city is mind-blowingly weird. The brochures keep suggesting its a cross of East and West, and they aren't exaggerating. It verges on eerie modernism, Western style boxes with Eastern pagodas or something meant to imitate a Jean Nouvel modernist structure. To be honest, I don't feel like I am on the other side of the world at all, because the roadways, the houses - they speak of efficiency and mobility, but not EXTREME efficiency and mobility - very Western.

However my favorite moments are when Korea loses its design posturing and populism takes over. Neon, moving signs and cute characters (they literally think they can sell anything by putting a smiling pig or a dancing cat on it. And it's true. They can.). When the moments of sheer Orientalism shine through, in all its garishness, I think Korea is best.

Anyway, here is my day in photographs. We went to the Leeum Art Museum and had a meeting with Mass Studies Principal Minsuk Cho. We went to see Korean retailer Space Mue (in all its glory) and had a traditional Korean lunch. Then we met with architect who designed the Korean Lock Museum, amongst other places. Yes, that is correct, the Korean lock museum...




My room at night, with the bed reflected onto the city.


Well, you ought to know what I was wearing!



This is a sweet bun filled with black bean paste. I want to bring these home with me. You know what? I might. I might put a ton in my bag and see what the Hyatt does.



It was a rainy day...



Have you ever been inside a Korean office space? Because, uh...I have...



The Leeum Museum, which has a small but high profile collection of modern work like Rothko, Gilbert and George and Matthew Barney, but also an entire building dedicated to traditional Korean art.


Louise Bourgeois spiders!


This is Aaron. He's from Dwell. He is pondering why its raining and they won't let us run screaming into the courtyard with the spiders.

In the traditional Korean art building, designed by architect Mario Botta. I thought it was incredible. Much better than the other building, which was a lovely Jean Nouvel designed space.



Me!


Me looking at our dumb electronic speaking machines. The woman spoke as if she was in a Mac Talk program. It was terrifying.



A pagoda!!


This guy was a master of painting portraits and cats. Do you see the kitt tail peaking behind the chair? He was so adept they called him Catman*.







*not actually true.

Um, you know. Pottery.



Murakami.


Gilbert and George!

Reluctantly, I think Damien Hirst is pretty brilliant. This is a large mural lined with pills, and when you look at yourself in it, you look like a Chuck Close painting.



Noodles and lunch!


Getting our nom on. Nom nom nom!



This guy says NO PARKING. How can you refuse something so cute?



Street life



Residential buildings...



Crossing the bridge to Space Mue.



Belinda (who is the managing editor at Metropolis) and I simultaneously fell in love with these.


Space Mue exterior, designed by Mass Studies.



The interior (as you can tell, I've succumbed to mirror shots).



Psychedelic.


The space was really breathtaking. I loved it in there. It was like an exhibition space.



And they had these Rick Owen boots that I could be convinced to stab someone for.



The famous Ann Demeulemeester shop...


But I was more interested in downstairs, also owned by Space Mue, which had brands like Bernhard Wilhelm and KTZ.


Very nice.


A killer Herm├ęs building.



Ok. This woman was making waffles shaped like fish. On the street. Filled with red bean paste. I joked that our tour guides were dealing with a bunch of cats - bring us a great treat, and all we want to play with is the box.


Belinda and the feesh been woffle!



Oh, you know, Evil Dead: The Musical in Korean.



Wet day.


About to have a meeting with Seung H-Sang. Very professional


They wouldn't let us go into the Robot Museum.



Korean nights.


At the Seung H-Sang-designed Lock Museum. Seriously.



This is Jan. I think she hates me. Actually, I'm pretty sure she does, because she may hate all of us. She has this beautiful schedule and all we want to do is deviate from it.



Have you ever been to a Korean lock museum? Because, um, I have.



Who knew there could be so many locks!



Yes, thats a cat in the back, and yes, that key is protruding out of that bull's bum.



Night.


Korean barbecue, and then my camera died.






So I came home and crashed, understandably. Tomorrow, fashion week. At least thats something I know about...

1 comment:

Cathy said...

what kind of ID was itthat you are wearing? A DIGITAL ID? Did they make you wear a GPS chip?? LOL don't want to lose any of these journalists...