fields of supply
the many sites of small scale agrarian production are a common feature of the urban landscape of the wider Seoul region. the vacant lots on the edge of neighbourhoods, next to highways or suburban train lines are home to traditional ways of small scale farming or gardening. as horizontally organised urban and social space these sites have a somewhat symbolic connotation in the resistance to vertical high-rise.
improvised at first glance, the makeshifts have an aesthetic value in their own right. the little huts and shacks make for transient constellations, beautiful in a subtle way. part of an informal economy their existence follows the cycles of urban growth. politically loaded territory these sites often become the battleground for conflicts resulting from the different degrees of development within Korean society.
as a way to appropriate small scale natural spaces and to turn them into an organised entity these garden spaces seem to have a metaphorical importance. by turning non-spaces into purpose-made, meaningful and efficient microcosms, they contribute to a micro process of cultural and social progression.
the history of this kind of gardens is closely related to the history of urban and industrial growth. private garden lots were a form of organising social space as well as an extension of a living environment that was often reduced to basic needs. the gardens would provide families with alimentation, in the mean time the self-organisational associations that would administer the garden compounds became a space to reflect and to practice oppositional working class culture during times of repression.
jan lemitz was born in duesseldorf. he is currently based in london and about to complete his MA in photography and urban cultures at goldsmiths college, university of london.
he works as a visual artist with main interests in landscape and space. jan has been working in seoul over the last two years. he was artist in residence at seoksu art project in anyang. recent exhibitions include a contribution to this year’s edition of singapore international photography festival.