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The exhibition Working Holiday by YOO Hwasoo runs from Septemer 9 to September 21. The presentation concludes his three-month artist residency by AIR_Frankfurt.
‘Working Holiday’ refers to a government sponsored program where youths under the age of 30 reside overseas for a period of 6 to 12 months while legally earning a wage and covering their own living expenses. The Korean government is currently expanding this program with the objective of fostering global professionals and talent, and many students are favorably responding to and participating in this program. The main candidates of the program are university students that plan to graduate soon that desire to deal with any uncertainties and anxieties about their future career paths, or students that desire to seek out more favorable work and culture environments with the ultimate goal to upgrade their “on paper” specifications through gaining additional experiences in foreign language and professional settings.
How romantic is the term ‘Working Holiday’? Upon second thought, I am also part of this sacred tribe of working vacationers. I have also applied to your exchange program based on my desires to work in a more favorable setting and to also expand my professional horizons as an artist. I have also been able to vicariously experience the nuances and benefits of the ‘Working Holiday’ during my time in Europe for the past two months through meeting with and sharing stories with other colleagues and visitors that are here on ‘Working Holiday,’ which helped me realize that there are other people that have also traveled to Europe to fulfill their desires for something new and something better.
This diversity of people including myself, in addition to all the immigrants, students studying abroad, traveling tourists and refugees, have made it their mission to arrive in this advanced ‘promised land’, which we envision to holding a promise to a better future. But the reality is also that these people face much worse hardships and neglect than they had expected in terms of their work, and are persisting and enduring these hardships as an investment towards their future.
Just in fact how beneficial is this persistence and endurance towards improving the quality of our lives? How significant (or insignificant) are the expectations of the people native to this country toward us and how much can we expect in terms of opportunities that they are willing to provide us with? And finally just how happy are the native citizens of this country that we so desperately wish to be accepted to and establish ourselves as part of? These are the frequent insightful questions that I heard being asked during my current journey.
“I traveled 6 countries over the course of 1 month. I made sure to take lots of pictures…” (student on Working Holiday)
“I am pretty sure that my life here is better than when in Korea. I don’t have much desire to return.” (owner of a Korean bed and breakfast business)
“I want to endure this life as much as I can, and when I return (to Korea) I want to start something…” (study abroad student currently on leave from school)
Regardless of our positions and situations, we are all part of the “Working Holiday” clan. While I am over the age of 30, which exempts me from government support and subsidies, the journey of my life in the form of a ‘Working Holiday’ on the path to becoming a ‘global talent’ continues on…
en Yoo Hwasoo(*) lives and works in Seoul, Korea. His works have been showed in many exhibitions and he also was part of different residency programs. solo exhibitions (selection): stranger work, old house, Seoul (2013); So, straight and good-looking, space k, Seoul (2013); It’s difficult for me to use, Insa Art Space, Seoul (2012); Sweet Life, Hongeun Art Studio, goollpool, Seoul (2011); Dolce Vita, Cheonggye art studio gallery, Seoul (2010). Residencies: mmca goyang, Korea (2016-2017); mmca changdong, korea (2014-2015); Gyeonggi Creator Center, Korea (2012-2013); Cheonggye Art Studio,Korea (2010-2011).
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