Photologue | Reinterpreting Museum Collections in Korea

There are a number of museum collection exhibitions at the start and finish of the year throughout Korea. Recently, I was able to visit several strong collection shows that not only present the museums’ collections, but also offer interpretations of the history of Korean contemporary art.

'Above all, Korean Historical Conceptual Art from the 1970-80s: pal bang-mi-in' 八方美, curated by Jonggil Gim, is an exhibition of the Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition focused on Korean conceptual art, which played a pivotal role in shaping Korean contemporary art. The eight artists selected by the Gyeonggi MoMA from its collection—Duckjun Kwak, Kulim Kim, Yongik Kim, Hyunki Park, Neungkyung Sung, Kangso Lee, Kunyong Lee, and Myungseop Hong—were largely responsible for the establishment of conceptual art in Korea, with work spanning from installation and video to performance art, land art, and process art. Along with pieces from the museum’s collection, the exhibition features other major works by the artists, and also incorporates a rare archive of related materials that supports the artworks being shown. In addition to helping illuminate the aesthetic background and significance of Korean conceptual art, the exhibition and accompanying archive materials also provide an understanding of the distinctive difference between Korean/Asian and Western notions of conceptual art.

'Out of the Silent Planet', curated by Sooyun Lee, at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea, is a collection-based exhibition that brings together ten representative media artworks by 8 artists from NMCA’s collection. These experimental Korean media artists include Hyunki Park, Taejin Yook, Youngjin Kim, Bul Lee, with work ranging from the 1970s to the present. These artists have each created their own language to interpret media. However, there are several common elements among these artworks: light, sound, and a particular relationship with time. The exhibition presents an appealing display of these three elements, and just like the title, the exhibition hall reminds the viewer of an asteroid. A circular band-like exhibition hall leads the viewer into a media art experience in a silent and dark environment. Each of the works is displayed sequentially, with enough space so the viewer can appreciate the work in relaxed surroundings. In the middle of the exhibition hall, there is also an archive space designed by media artists Sunmin Park & Seonghun Choi that features eight custom desks and bookshelves with lights and comfortable chairs.

Lastly, 'Abstract It!' is collection-based exhibition at the Deoksugung Museum of Art. The Museum invited guest curator, Jinsang Yoo to reinterpret the Museum collection and organise an exhibition. The exhibition features 91 artworks by 69 artists, and is shown in four galleries of the Museum. The keyword of the exhibition is ‘abstraction,’ which is one of the distinguishing strengths of the Museum's contemporary collection. It shows the work of several artists who played important roles in the development of Korean abstract art, and whose work is related to the two exhibitions described above.



Sunghee LEE

Sun, 1 May 2011

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