Jeonghun Lee
Mini Interview with Instagrammer @oottoogi exploring ‘matjip’ and exhibition

Text: Jeonghun Lee
Translation: Yes More Translation

:DDDD: Can ‘Instagrammer’ be considered a profession in the art scene akin to curators or collectors?

:@oottoogi: There can be different opinions concerning this question, but personally I don’t think it is accepted as a profession in the scene.

:DDDD: Why is your Instagram handle ‘oottoogi’? It is similar to the name of the Korean food manufacturing company ‘Ottogi’ in Korea.

:@oottoogi: Well… there is no reason. And my Instagram has no connection to the company either. I just combined the name of my favorite company and one letter from my own name.

:DDDD: You started @oottoogi in 2017 and now it seems like it has evolved into an art platform. How did you start it?

:@oottoogi: I started my career at an art magazine. The senior editors there had been to many art spaces over a long period of time for their work and had their own routes for when they visited. They said: “You must visit this place if you go to that art space.” As a university graduate, it was a pleasure to be introduced to those places, and I could gradually make my own as well. As I continued my career, I began to record and share this information. That became the current Instagram account.

:DDDD: You use Instagram to share and archive exhibitions as well as ‘matjip’ [the Korean term for delicious restaurants]. Is there a reason you prefer Instagram as a platform for this?

:@oottoogi: My main purpose is to archive the exhibitions, so I thought an image-based platform fits best. If I had thought art criticism is the most important function, I would have chosen a different platform.

:DDDD: Aren’t there other platforms?

:@oottoogi: I have a Twitter account, but I rarely use it. The tone and manner is a little different from that of Instagram.

:DDDD: Is there any gap between you in real life and oottoogi in the virtual space? Like the moment, you ask yourself: “Is oottoogi me? Or am I oottoogi?” Have you felt like you have a split identity?

:@oottoogi: Sometimes when I write reviews or critiques for art magazines and catalogues about exhibitions I already posted on the Instagram account, I feel the two are very different.

:DDDD: Your list of must-visit restaurants is popular among those in the art sector. I even thought that you should make videos like CHOIZAROAD! How did you come up with the idea of connecting two different topics: ‘exhibition’ and ‘matjip’?

:@oottoogi: People must get hungry after seeing exhibitions like I do. That’s why. As I mentioned earlier, the habits from my first workplace affected it. Moreover, I hoped to give motivation to people who have to travel far to see exhibitions.

:DDDD: Due to the recent situation caused by COVID-19, more online exhibitions have been created. Have you experienced any exhibitions online?

:@oottoogi: I’ve seen some exhibitions through online viewing rooms, but personally I much prefer to see exhibitions in the real world.

:DDDD: I think that the trend of exhibition consumption through Instagram in Korea overlaps with the emergence of ‘new independent art space’ in Seoul and how those places have increased their activity.

:@oottoogi: I don’t agree much with that. The moment when 'new independent art space’’ emerged was also the time when location-based services became more sophisticated and widespread. They made it easy to visit those spaces, even if they were not concentrated in one particular area.

:DDDD: I wonder how we will consume and appreciate the exhibition after the end of COVID-19. Do you think we can go back to the pre-COVID times when people enjoyed exhibitions in meat space?

:@oottoogi: Well, I will, but I am not sure what others will do.

:DDDD: Due to the social distancing measures, there have been restrictions on visiting exhibitions and restaurants for months. How has it been for you during this period?

:@oottoogi: I worked from home, watched Netflix and cooked.

:DDDD: Recently you started to post on your Instagram again to introduce recent exhibitions. Were there any difficulties with viewing exhibitions under these unexpected circumstances?

:@oottoogi: There were no major difficulties other than there were a few exhibitions that didn’t allow viewing at all. At some point there were occasions that required visitors to write down personal information which would have been open to many people. However, it has mostly improved over time.

:DDDD: Whether one enjoys an exhibition or not depends on personal taste as well. What do you do if an exhibition doesn’t meet your expectations?

:@oottoogi: I am not very picky about choosing what exhibitions to see. But I only post the exhibitions I enjoyed.

:DDDD: Do you have anything you particularly worry about when you post about exhibitions?

:@oottoogi: I am concerned that combining exhibitions and ‘matjip’ might be seen as impolite to the artists.

:DDDD: You get quite a lot of feedback from your followers through comments. What are the most memorable ones?

:@oottoogi: It’s nice to hear when people say they went to an exhibition after seeing my posts or they tag friends who they would like to go to the exhibition with. I am also very happy and thankful when artists or curators of the exhibitions I post leave their own comments.

:DDDD: Do you have any recent exhibitions you want to recommend? And of course a matjip as well...

:@oottoogi: I recently really enjoyed History Has Failed Us, but No Matter, which returned to the Arko Art Center¹ after representing South Korea at the 58th Venice Biennale. Nearby, Jungdon Sikdang, the pride of Hyehwa, which sells pork cutlets, and the old chinese restaurant Golden Gate are both good.

:DDDD: Is there other content oottoogi is preparing?

:@oottoogi: I have a few more Instagram accounts, but I will keep it secret for now!

  1. The opening of the exhibition was delayed and it finally opened on May 8. However, it unfortunately closed again due to the outbreak of the virus. The exhibition closed on June 21 without an extension.

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