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The Art Space Pool(hereinafter ‘pool’) is a non-profit art organization based in Seoul, Korea devoted to initiating contemporary art productions and fostering cultural discourses and ideas. Co-founded by twenty local artist-curators, art critics and interdisciplinary writers and thinkers in 1999, pool has represented an institutional model of an artist-run space, an agenda-sharing community, an alternative knowledge production site and a collaborative collective of grassroots cultural producers.  Initially established under the official name of “alternative space pool,” pool is one of the leading initiatives of the alternative cultural movement of the region in the ‘90s that complimented the general socio-political evolution to democratization, civil society and postcolonial regional awareness. Inherited from historical avant-garde practices of the region from the modern period, pool has been dedicated to the values of criticality and autonomy of art, structural critique on cultural policy and art system, revisionist analysis on history, proposition of the counter-publics and art as a form of public utterance and responsibility in society. 

Passing its tenth anniversary in 2010, the Art Space Pool appointed the first curator-director and has launched three-year plan under the vision of “Integrity and Openness” that innovates the organization at a comprehensive level, from its space, programs, the organizational and financial structure to artist community, public, institutional agenda and network. Membership is revived, and sponsoring members and individual patrons contribute to more than half of its annual budget. Additional funding from artwork and publication sales, international matching fund and the income from outsourcing art education content development and art project curating services is counter-balancing the budget from governmental and public grants. Pool reconfigured its space into gallery, archive lounge, office, outdoor spaces and newly launched a bilingual website. It reaches multigenerational public by opening an annex pilot space “Ccuull (Honey) & Ccuull Pool (Honey Grass)” for experimentations by cultural producers who propose to integrate cultural projects, self-initiated researches and counter-market economy. Pool expanded its programming strands to production, archive & schooling, public & patrons, publication and network, which produces average forty programs per year. In its organizational structure, pool mixes international and national board members. Most recently Pool took over the first historical alternative art journal initiative “forum a” and launched the license as a publishing agent of pool.   

by Heejin Kim, Director, art space pool

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