Seoul-based creative Andy Knowlton’s current project ‘The Drunken Poets’ is a quirky take on poetry and art. The American multi-media artist searches for materials on the street – trash, basically – and turns the items into unusual-looking dolls which he then attaches a small bottle to. Within that bottle he places a poem and leaves the inanimate creature lying around Itaewon for people to pick up and take home.
His reasoning behind this is simple. “I want to surprise people going about their daily routines”, he says. “Also, I’ve been writing poetry for several years now and I’m always trying to figure out new ways to get people interested in poetry. These dolls are just another approach to getting the good word out on poetry.”
The results of the dolls are sweet and haphazard since Andy is not exclusive about the materials he uses. “I pick up anything on the streets that I think looks interesting. I don’t do much planning at all. I like to approach it as if I were doing a collage or a puzzle. I mess around with different materials for a while to see how they fit together and when I come up with something I like, or when the pieces seem to fit, I go for it.” He mainly sources the items from around where he lives, the Chongshin University (Isu) neighbourhood.
But why does he leave the insentient objects in Itaewon? Why not Hongdae or Insadong, two areas in Seoul associated with art? He explains, “I debated for a while whether I should put Korean poems in the bottles or English poems. Finally, I decided that the poems that would best match the dolls were my own. So I decided to go with Itaewon just for the simple fact that a lot of foreigners go there and they might be more likely to “get” the poems.”
Not that the figurines are exclusively for expats or visitors. The dolls are for anyone. “As long as it makes them happy, I’m cool with it.”
This is not the first idiosyncratic, interactive venture the artist has come up with. A previous endeavour of his includes the 88 Book Project, where he sent 88 handmade, illustrated stories to almost every home in the town of Lebanon, Kansas, USA.
According to Andy, The Drunken Poets is ongoing; he has created 40 dolls so far and has placed 20 on the streets.
Have you found one yet?