French born poet-turned visual artist Andy Knowlton has been living and working in Korea for 8 years. Since his days of leaving poetry for people in random places, he’s been interested in methods of delivery for his creativity. His latest piece, Viva La Vida plays with the idea of routine and how much we notice when we’re in public spaces.
We’ve all been there. A monotonous walk that we’ve done so often that it blurs into the background. Routine can often force us to ignore the world around us, sleepwalking through our lives. This is a position Andy Knowlton almost found himself in. After moving to Daegu in search of something new, he soon found his life fall into a pattern. “I used to have a really hard time dealing with routine.” says Andy. “I came to Korea for adventure, but found myself doing the same thing everyday. Walking the same street. Taking the same subway. Seeing the same people.”
Rather than let this routine get him down, however, Andy saw an opportunity for creativity and began work on Viva La Vida – 650 hand-made figurines that would be displayed on a drab wall in Seoul.
Everyday, Knowlton would walk past this wall but rather than ignore it, he would try and notice something about it that he hadn’t noticed before, exploring the intricacies and intimacies of the world around him. In particular, the people he would see or encounter, anonymous individuals each with their own original identity, fascinated Knowlton. He would incorporate these people into his work by making figures of them. As well as the strangers on his journey, Knowlton would also make figures of his close friends in their Halloween costume as well as a series of fictional characters.
Before coming to Korea, Knowlton was a poet and would leave small poems he’d written in random places for strangers to find. This idea of surprise is something that translates well into Viva La Vida, since the artist kept the project completely secret the two years he was working on it. When it was finished it gave him such a joy to see people enjoying his work and noticing a space that would have otherwise been ignored.
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