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Artistic spirits land on Kauri tree table at Kyobo Bookstore

Artistic spirits land on Kauri tree table at Kyobo Bookstore

Posted January. 07, 2021 07:21,   

Updated January. 07, 2021 07:21


Only a year ago, people would love spending a reading time at this table when they dropped by Kyobo Bookstore in the Gwanghwamun area, central Seoul. 11.5 meters in width, 1.5-1.8 meters in length and 1.6 tons in weight, the installation consists of two wooden plate layers and provides up to 100 seats. It is the Kauri tree table that impressively cuts through the bookstore space.

As the COVID-19 pandemic only became worse, the table has fewer chairs around it – a measure due to social distancing. Chairs have got farther from one another to end up being all gone. What lies alone is the reading table, which should always be surrounded by crowds with all sorts of books scattered across it. The bookstore has promoted books and had inspirational phrases written on it. Now, the table turns into an exhibition space for young artists.

Since Dec. 31, a special exhibition titled “Too small a heart” has been open at the Kauri tree table to display 99 artifacts of 19 artists in their 20s and 30s such as Kang Dong-ho, Ko Kyung-ho and Kim Min-su. Visitors can take a look at the answers by artists on “What it is like to be a young artist” next to their drawings. The message behind the exhibition is to help young artists lift their spirits and stay hopeful as a new year has just begun even though insecurity and concern are part of our lives. The exhibition is open until Feb. 15.

Installed in 2015 at Kyobo Bookstore in the heart of Seoul, the Kauri tree table garnered a lot of attention as it was made of a Kauri fine tree 50,000 years old discovered at a New Zealand wetland. In the Ice Age, the tree was buried in the ground in an oxygen-less condition to maintain its original state for tens of thousands of years. Excavated in July 2015 in New Zealand, the tree was cut into smaller pieces up to 11.5 meters long so that they could be shipped in containers. Moving to Italy for processing, it arrived at Busan Port in South Korea.

Min Kim kimmin@donga.com