Something that inspired us very much when looking into the subject of relaxation and urban stress is the Space-Out Competition, a yearly held performance art piece created by the artist WoopsYang.

The Space-Out Competition started in Seoul, South Korea in 2014. Now it has spread to several cities in South Korea, Bejing in China, and Taiwan. This summer it is being premiered in Rotterdam, and interest has been shown in Slovakia, Rumania, and Germany as well. As the name of the event already says, the competition is about “spacing out”, which refers to the act of “doing nothing” and falling into the state of unfocused mind-wandering. WoopsYang wants to draw attention to the fact that in busy city life, persons feel too much anxiety about taking time for themselves without connecting it to activities or consumption, as stated on the website of the space-out competition:

“People these days work very hard and they deserve to enjoy small luxuries like buying a new clothes or having a cup of nice coffee. But they cannot enjoy enough free time, as a new heavy workload is waiting for them. If You are the only one who does nothing, it will make you very nervous. So I thought I would not be nervous anymore, if I gather people and do nothing/space out with everyone together. Then the space where I am will be full of people who do space out.”

We had the opportunity to have a conversation on Skype with WoopsYang about what sparked the idea and how the competition eventually manifested.

In the interview she said that the symbolic value of the competition is what she essentially wants to deliver. Participants are asked to wear clothes that represent their occupation to form a group of persons that seem like a “miniature world” gathered in the space. By that, the busyness of the city is juxtaposed. WoopsYang also commented on the highly competitive atmosphere that is predominant in Seoul; however, she stresses, it is not a culture-specific phenomenon, but an international one.

When reading about the Space-Out Competition, we could sense that there might a connection to our concept of Urban Sanctuaries. Talking to her, it became even clearer how much our topics relate to each other. The fact that the stressful urban lifestyle is not framed inside national borders, but an international phenomenon, is an important point to emphasize. We also consider the act of disconnecting from the busyness of urban life as a necessity that is underrated and found out along our research that the Urban Sanctuary is not a specific place, but rather a performative moment bound into the atmosphere of Being Alone Together.

WoopsYang’s artistic approach to the busy urban lifestyle uncovers the problematic by contrasting it with its opposite and succeeds to transport her message in a way that everybody can relate to.

We are intrigued by the Space-Out Competition and hope to see it taking place in Sweden, too. Thank you so much WoopsYang and Seunghyun Sa for the interview!

Text by Fernanda Jaraba and Ezana Mussie

Picture by WoopsYang

Find more information about the Space-Out Competition on the homepage:


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