WEB ARi 2.0
The virtual statue of peace as a portable memorial, 2021
Who decides which artworks and memorials are shown in public space?
The Statue of Peace, designed by the artist couple Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-seung, commemorates the 200,000 girls and women - euphemistically called ‘comfort women’ - who were sexually enslaved by the Japanese military during the Asia-Pacific War in the early 20th century.
In the fall of 2020, for the first time in Germany, a Statue of Peace was erected in a public space in Berlin-Moabit, with the name Ari (Armenian for "the Brave"). Shortly thereafter the Japanese embassy interfered, requesting an imminent removal of the statue.
'WEB ARi' is the virtual sister of the Statue of Peace – a portable memorial, for everyone to experience on their smartphone via webAR technology, without installing any app.
Art in public spaces in Germany, as in many other countries, is subject to an official approval process and in most cases is both costly and time-consuming. Through the use of augmented reality, 'WEB ARi' bypasses any approval process or legal restrictions, while also underlining the concept of artistic freedom.
In order to make the virtual statue easily accessible to a broad audience, webAR was used. Unlike traditional AR experiences, users do not need to install an app, as it is browser-based and compatible with a variety of smartphones.
In August 2021 the project was officially launched in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. A protest sign tagged with a QR code leads users directly to the webAR application. By clicking on the 'Start AR' button the camera gets activated and the Virtual Statue can be placed.
With #PLACEFORPEACE users from all over the world started commemorating the so-called 'comfort women' by placing the Statue of Peace at a site of their choosing. Photos were submitted to the gallery and shared on Social Media, with over 100 photo submissions from 12 countries and counting.
The project has already received a lot of attention in the South Korean mainstream media, including coverage from Yonhap News, JTBC News, YTN, MBN News and EBS.
'WEB ARi' raises the question of who decides which artworks and memorials are shown in public space, enabling people to commemorate the subjects they care about.
Artistic Direction: Hojin Kang
Concept & Design: Hojin Kang, Erik Freydank
Development: Jens Eraßmy
3D Modelling: Homin Jeong
Editorial: Hojin Kang, Aljosha Schäck
Camera: Erik Freydank, Aljosha Schäck
Editing: Erik Freydank, Hojin Kang
Consultation: Claudia Menz, Nataly Han, Yann Werner Prell, Erik Freydank
Special thanks: Uncomfortable Art Gallery, Stadtgalerie Saarbrücken