No Space, Just A Place. Eterotopia: Gucci's Exploration of the 'Other'
The prospect of visiting an art exhibition still feels like a long way off for many of us. However, for art enthusiasts in Seoul, an opportunity to revel in a cultured pastime has just become a lot more tangible. ‘No Place, Just A Space’ is a large-scale exhibition sponsored by Gucci and showcased at the Daelim Museum in Seoul, South Korea. The exhibition presents a new definition of ‘Other' space as a utopia where people interact with each other and their environment in a different, more desirable way. The project also works to inspire questions surrounding what 'Other' space might be in physical, mental and metaphorical terms. Based on this, the concept behind this project is strikingly relevant to the current situation we all face now, as we adapt to spending more time at home.
Creative Director Alessandro Michele teamed up with curator and writer Myriam Ben Salah to support the rich cultural landscape and contemporary, underground art scene in Seoul while redefining the notions of space and togetherness. The aim is to encourage viewers to consider radical perspectives on ‘Otherness’ and alternatives to mainstream paradigms that consume contemporary art.
This is not the first time Alessandro Michele has been an active participant in the discussion of oddities. Gucci’s SS20 collection creates a space of openness that encourages boldness, unapologetic self-expression and empowers self-affirmation concerning one’s existence. The collection embodies this essence of assurance through a vibrant colour-scheme, graphic colour-blocking and a risqué adoption of sexiness that refused to go unnoticed on the runway. SS20 delivered an abundance of riding crops (a reference to S&M and the house’s equestrian heritage), lace-inset slip dresses, and black vinyl chokers – contributing to the whole look of scoop-neck leotards and high-slit midi skirts. As a finishing touch to the message behind this collection, Michele included tailor labels on the sleeve cuffs and trouser hems of the suits that read Gucci Orgasmique or Gucci Eterotopia – the latter being a celebratory reclamation of the ‘Other’ deviating spaces that are so often rejected by those in power.
The term and meaning of Eterotopia is the heart and driving force of this project. Borrowing terminology from the French Philosopher Michael Foucault's 'Heterotopia', Ben Salah claims to be “interested in the museum as a physical Eterotopia, a space that is literally other, and that others what you’re looking at”. Salah is also known for her radical aesthetic visions that have been propelled by Michele’s meditations on society, all of which are key themes to him and reflected in the existence of marginal spaces. The ambitions of the exhibition derive from Michele’s meditations on society and work to bring light to alternative spaces by touching upon the ethics and aesthetics of relationships between genres and gender, the notion of landscapes and attached ideologies, an urgency for self-expression and an ageless anthropological manifesto.
‘No Place, Just A Place’ demands a fundamental rethinking of the dominant discourses that push marginalised communities aside. This unique space draws attention to the increasingly heterogeneous social fabric that exists within Korea and strives to give outsiders a voice to reveal the diversity of perspectives on what constitutes a utopia, togetherness or belonging. Queer politics are interwoven throughout the exhibition, with Michele and Ben Salah allowing us to explore alternative spaces where ‘Otherness’ is free to exist and unity within society is strengthened.
The artwork showcased in the exhibition is from 10 independent art spaces in Seoul, together with artwork from 5 Korean and international artists – further adding to the concept of unity. Everyone involved has presented an immersive installation inspired by the future and fantastical mythologies, which reflects the theme of the exhibition, with the hope of creating new and empowering narratives. The creatives offer global perspectives on identity politics and representation through their work, ultimately heightening the depth of meaning attached to the exhibition while fuelling the cultural discourse it aims to address. Some of the work on display includes the wallpaper installation 'Covers' by Kang Seung Lee (QueerArch), the surrealist intervention ‘Ida, Ida, Ida!’ by Olivia Erlanger and the audiovisual installation 'Notes on Gesture' by Martine Syms. Audio Visual Pavilion, Boan1942, d/p, Hapjungjigu, OF, Post Territory Ujeongguk, space illi, Space One, Tastehouse, and White Noise are among those that are involved in the project.
Although a trip to Seoul can amount to nothing more than wishful thinking at present, a 360-degree virtual tour of Gucci’s latest exhibition is ready and waiting on their website now.