Jung Yeon-hee, Adjunct Professor of Kongju University
※ During 2019, the KACES hosted 4 colloquiums for arts and culture education experts in Korea, with a strict focus on arts and culture education. The first colloquium’s theme was arts and culture education for adults in their 50s and 60s, which explored ways to encourage their participation, whose participation rate is relatively low compared to their population size. The second colloquium focused on a 52-hour work week for work-life balance, offering discussion sessions on how arts and culture can help people enjoy their life in times where the 4th industrial revolution is reducing working hours. The third colloquium’s theme was space for arts and culture education, where participants discussed the impact of space in arts and culture education. The fourth colloquium allowed participants to discuss the effects of arts and culture education.
The below article is a summary of the presentation and discussion by Jeong Yeonhee (adjunct professor, Department of Art Education at Kongju National University) at the second colloquium. She shares her concerns and thoughts on the roles of arts and culture education in an era where the 4th industrial revolution shifts the paradigm of labor, which makes a good use of time for recovery of life an important topic.
The second colloquium was held after the first colloquium in May, which discussed arts and culture education for adults. This colloquium provides us with a chance to reflect on the social issue of a 52-hour work week from the perspective of arts and culture education. The five-day work week was first adopted in 2004, gradually expanded and applied to all workplaces in 2011. The 52-hour work week newly adopted in 2018 reduces actual working hours and provides more leisure times. This trend has become a catalyst in creating the new trend of “work-life balance” in the Korean society. This colloquium is a venue for the two participants’ presentations, group discussions and general discussions, with our focus on the policy background of reduced working hours, its impact on our individual life and the landscape of arts and culture education. The following is a summary of the colloquium.
Reduced working hours: discovering the importance of recouping time of life
Professor Shin Seunghwan, the first presenter, focused on fundamental reflection on the latter industrial society and discussed the problems of modern life and ways to discover new paradigms of labor as a solution. He also discussed recovering the value and importance of life through art in life.
The modern society is economically affluent. However, the contradiction and adverse effects of our economic development also cause more existential isolation and distortion. The economic isolation brought on by the 52-hour work week can be understood in much the same way. The 4th industrial revolution supports the concept of posthuman, which argues that our understanding on humans is no longer valid in the modern culture. At the same time, posthumans cannot seem to overcome their distortions either. We can only soothe the innate distortion, isolation and anxiety of humans by understanding ourselves beyond capital and scientific technology.
We need to focus on how we will respond when the 4th industrial revolution takes away jobs and shifts our cultural environment. The role of arts and culture education shines when we consider ways to discover value in daily life and explore ourselves within the given time frame. In 1995, Rifkin argued that the idea of labor in the industrial era is no longer valid, saying that we need to re-build ourselves within a community, or labor in a third sector, and strengthen bonding with others. Such third sector labor is inevitably related to arts and culture education and requires a different form of labor paradigm from the market economy and industrial capital.
More time does not always equate to change in everyday life. How are we going to escape the obvious and boring daily life and enjoy new moments? When we meet new, unfamiliar moments of life, we can discover value. This can be done through art and culture, as they help us to come to realization in everyday life. We live and build the structures of life and existence. Art and culture express the mundane aspect of life in an unusual way, leading us to appreciate the usual aspect of daily life. Artistic moments take us away from the constant and regular nature of life and we escape into unusual moments.
Nietzsche said artistic exploration is the genuine moment of truth that guides a period, and that we need art so that we do not drown in the truths of science and society. If art is an existential truth taking hold inside an artist’s artwork through his or her creativity, then creating or enjoying art, according to Heidegger, is a moment that reveals the hidden meaning and truth. Art creates difference, and difference is always revealed through aesthetics. The uniqueness of art is in creating difference and the moment of such creation.
When we think of culture as not an outcome but a process, then culture becomes a process of self-reflection that allows us to understand ourselves, achieve what we pursue and look back on ourselves. Increased leisure times provided by the 52-hour work week is not an elimination of labor; rather, it is time spent outside of work. It is a moment that is borne out of the reciprocity between daily life and non-daily life, and art and culture are the perfect way of bringing out the moment. Exploring value is always within the tension between daily life and non-daily life, between their reciprocity. The value of everyday life that rises above the ultimate meaning of existence is re-played through the tension and experience of this moment.
Discovering in arts and cultural education the value of recouping time of life
The author Yoon Jongpil, who identified himself as a community artist, gave a presentation to introduce his arts and culture education practices for the last 10 years. In 2009, he established a group called Collective Community in Incheon, where he lives. He defines his activities with the community as alternative art. The 10-year-old Cumool Cumool Culture School covers topics such as region, life and daily life, and aims to create a culture community. People meet people to achieve these goals at the school.
The school has been providing programs covering different age groups from children to youth. The Hongyemun Project emphasizes the act of “examining,” which is discovering unfamiliar aspects in what we are familiar with. The project has continued to become more fun and creative as participating children grew and different community artists participated. When the children became teenagers, a game program for teenagers called [Go Go Ssing My Town (RPG)] was created. When they became youths, [Wumul Jjumul Ingyeo Explosion] (Hesitant Adults Explosion) was designed to discuss culture plans. The title itself clearly shows artistic creativity and meanings.
[Discovery of Life] is a program designed for adults, which connects market vendors through a radio program. The program has evolved to become a ‘Town Arts College.’ The college seeks to encourage local residents to gather, enjoy arts and culture education, grow, expand their senses and appreciate life with art and culture. [Community Engraving Art], [Daily Drawing], [Woodwork & Bricolage] and [Tea Time] are among some of the programs that began with the community artists’ earnest reflection on their areas, life, and the meanings of daily life and art.
Combining experiences with arts and culture education for recovering time for life
The group discussion session after the presentations were divided into three groups. Each session did not provide enough time to come to a conclusion, but it was still a meaningful opportunity for us to discuss our starting point in looking for answers from where we are. Here are some of the contents from our discussions.
The first group shared ideas on the need for a program to allow today’s people to express themselves from their blues and emptiness, acknowledging differences and communicating with one another. The group also explored the need for different programs for people with different characteristics and agreed on the need for government support and preventing it from not equally being distributed.
The second group discussed and agreed that arts and culture education in everyday life is much needed and local artists must be fostered to that end, and that programs by genres need to be carefully developed. In particular, the participants agreed with the first group, arguing that the society must pay attention to retirees who are culturally isolated. They also understood that various programs and arts and culture spaces are needed for people to participate.
The third group included experts in arts and culture policy. The participants shared their own stories on how leisure helps them expand their horizons of the world and enhance the value of working hours. They also agreed that social contribution through culture administration is important, but doing meaningful activities with neighbors (e.g. cleaning streets and growing flowers together) is also essential and rewarding. The experts agreed on the big gap between administration and actual day-to-day life, as they work in culture administration and being the beneficiaries of cultural policies themselves. They found consensus on the need for a completely different approach and support in fully adopting the 52-hour work week. They shared cases of other countries and came to a conclusion that more investigation and research are required. Lastly, the participants offered friendly suggestions that organizations such as the KACES maximizing the value of their leisure times with arts and culture education will be meaningful and add value to the future projects.