Part art and part social-activism, Hong Youngin's site-specific installations revive with sober pragmatism the romantic notion that art may still act as a vehicle for social change.
Youngin's project The Performing City (Sept. 2005) was created for the old, rundown Hotei-Cho neighborhood, in Nagoya City, Japan, a district recently selected for redevelopment. Young-in installed dust-protective drapes shaped as theater curtains onto the scaffolding at some of the sites designated for renovation.
Following negotiations with city contractors and workers, renovation work on the sites chosen by the artist were given priority. A large Buddha statue was restored and repainted, as was a second pre-WW2 building she had covered with drapes.
"With this project," writes Youngin, "I had hoped to engage directly with the city's development plan, by using the pretext of creating art work, and to engage with the public by transforming the construction sites into theatrical arenas. The project was meant to question the relationship between the city's development strategy and the daily life of the common citizen."