Community art should involve local people

Community art projects should involve the locals who have a right to decide what can be displayed in their residential areas, PhD Kim Kwi-gon, president of the International Urban Training Centre, said.

Art transforms: One among the 20 playgrounds built by the group Think Playground, a year after it was founded. — VNS Photo

He was among South Korean specialists who took part in a conference held yesterday in Ha Noi titled ‘Art for the Better Spaces'. The conference was aimed at finding solutions for using art to beautify living spaces.

Community art refers to artistic activities and construction based in a community setting. Works from this genre can be of any media and is characterised by interaction or dialogue with the community. The local people engage themselves in creating and using such artistic constructions.

"Community art helps to beautify the living space for people, connect members of the community and promote local tourism," Tran Quoc Thai, general secretary of the Viet Nam Urban Forum, co-organiser of the conference, said.

He pointed out that the term ‘community art' is popular in many countries while in Viet Nam, it is still at a nascent stage. The locals have not yet engaged themselves in building community art.

Through the conference, one expects the authorities and locals to be more aware of the role of art in renovating urban areas. More and more painters, artists and people will join hands to bring art into life to build a better living environment, Thai said.

Kim revealed that in South Korea, community art can be found in various places such as vacant houses, markets, eco-villages, and bus terminals. One can see various types of art such as paintings, and installations, in addition to architecture and sculpture.

"From my experience, art is an important component of the community as it helps transform people's life and creation in a better way," Kim said.

"So far, public awareness of community art is rather limited," he said, adding, "Therefore, it should be meaningful and valuable to local residents, not only in artistic terms but in social and economic terms as well," he added.

Kim had a chance to visit the Ky Anh tunnel, which was used in the war, and is now an eco-tourism site in the central province of Quang Nam. His research on the community revealed that it has a long and traditional history. The people use sedges growing in the lake as raw material for weaving mats and fishing in the lake, forming a fishing tradition.

"I realised that residents were trying to promote the values of their culture and tradition," he said.

"So, I suggest that community art should support traditional village preservation and promotion of eco-cultural tourism in the area," he added.

Kwon Hyouk-do, representing Suwon City Government, concurred with Kim.

Suwon is the city which has been highly appreciated thanks to its community art. The success comes from the sympathy between artists and people.

He admitted that there were strong differences of opinion between the government, artists and locals when community art was applied in the city.

"The authorities and artists should consult the locals about art pieces because they are the owners and the audience of the art," he said.

"The artists should not air their personal opinions, and appreciate the interest of the masses, and even change their ideas depending on the demand and for the benefit of locals," he added.

In Viet Nam, the Think Playground group of artists, architects and volunteers, has implemented community art by building playgrounds for children in urban areas where there is lack of playing space.

"Together with the city's rapid urbanisation and development, numerous parks have been replaced with paid amusement parks filled with colourful computer games, digital entertainment areas, or simple inactive games such as doll-painting," Chu Kim Duc, co-founder of the group, said.

"There is no space given for children to slide, swing, or climb, the games that help improve physical skill," he pointed out.

"Public playgrounds should be free and allow children to share the joy of playing with other children, to allow parents to meet other parents as their children play together, and for our children to grow stronger and more confident."

The group got locals involved in repairing and building playgrounds for children. Accordingly, they worked with the local authorities and parents to design the playgrounds and select the games to be implemented.

It is expected that more and more community art pieces will be displayed in urban areas of Viet Nam, making life better and people happier.


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