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When art meets monsters: mapping art activism and anti-gentrification movements in Seoul

Lee, Seon Young and Han, Yoonai (2020) When art meets monsters: mapping art activism and anti-gentrification movements in Seoul. City, Culture and Society, 21. ISSN 1877-9166

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.ccs.2019.100292


Art activism is growing in the political landscape of gentrification in South Korea. This paper examines a case of Takeout Drawing—a café and art gallery in Seoul, to illuminate the interplay between art activism and anti-gentrification struggles evolving around the shifting urban politics of displacement. By locating the case in the historical context of urbanisation and urban social movements in Seoul, this paper aims to construct a comprehensive picture of the growing art activism. First, we closely examine the process of Takeout Drawing's struggle in which art activists, unsatisfied by the lack of control on the widespread displacement in commercial gentrification collectively claimed the right to stay put. Second, we outline the social transformation and the potential contribution that art activism has played in terms of the case study. The main conclusion of this research is that art activism is successfully bringing critical attention to the voices of the displaced that were otherwise unheard. The findings urge urban theorists and activists to question the fundamental democracy of urban transformation process, where the desires of property owners, speculative capital and government elites have overshadowed the everyday politics of ordinary inhabitants. Lastly, this paper demonstrates how current art activism in Seoul is reaching out to the broader public, commercial tenants, policymakers, and scholar activists to progress the hard-fought struggle for a spatially just city.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019 Elsevier.
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2022 14:27
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2022 14:27

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