Exhibit evokes the ‘face’ of shamanism

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Exhibit evokes the ‘face’ of shamanism

There are no marble floors or Ionic columns at the Museum of Face. Instead, an hour’s drive from Seoul will bring you to a traditional Korean-style house nestled in the mountains of Gwangju, Gyeonggi province.
The pebble courtyard is filled with small stone figures, many of them worn and ancient-looking. They are not displayed on pedestals, but arranged around the courtyard as if they are standing randomly, participating in some sort of party.
The museum contains the private collection of theater director Kim Jeong-ok. Over the past 40 years, he has collected various “faces” ― wooden Korean dolls and glass figurines from abroad, as well as stone statues.
“Faces” also appear in the paintings in the museum, many of which depict shamans. To commemorate its first anniversary, the museum is holding a special exhibition titled “Shamanistic Painting and Performance,” which began yesterday and will run for the next few months (no closing date has been set).
The exhibition focuses on how shamanism has affected and inspired Korean art. This includes not only paintings and sculptures, but also intangible art forms such as dance and music.
“We’re trying to portray the ‘madness’ of shamanism through the creativity of art. Art in the past was influenced greatly by shamanism, but modern artists also have their own way of incorporating shamanism into their work,” said Mr. Kim, who also is the head curator.
Unlike other art exhibitions, performances will play an important role. In particular, shaman Lee Seon-bi will be performing some rites, which are almost like a one-person dance. Mr. Lee, 72, was designated as Korea’s 90th important intangible cultural asset in 1988 for his performance of the Hwanghae province Pyeongsansonoreum-gut.
The Museum of Face is a place where one can appreciate art in the context of nature and traditional culture.
Since the private museum is located in a rural area, it is best to call and make a reservation and confirm performance schedules.

by Wohn Dong-hee

The Museum of Face is open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and from Wednesday to Friday by reservation only. It is closed Monday and Tuesday. Admission is 3,000 won for adults and 2,000 won for children under 6 years of age.
To reach the museum by car, take the Jungbu Expressway from Seoul toward Gwangju and turn right at the Gyeongan interchange. Go straight on local highway 45 toward Twechon, then turn left at the Twechon Intersection. The museum is on the left, across the road from Nonghyup Hanaro Mart. From East Seoul Bus Terminal, take a bus to Twechon. Buses depart every 30 minutes.
For more information and reservations, call 031-765-3522
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