30th anniversary exhibition pairs new with old: MMCA Gwacheon celebrates with a large-scale show
The branch was a hurried decision by the military regime to improve the nation’s cultural image before the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics, but it also set off something much larger.
“The national museum [which was established in 1969] started systematic collection in earnest in Gwacheon,” explained Kang Seung-wan, head of the museum’s curatorial team. Now, the MMCA has 7,840 pieces of art, and 74 percent of the collection has been acquired since the opening of the Gwacheon branch, which is also now the museum’s headquarters.
Kang gave the press a preview of the branch’s newest exhibition, titled “As the Moon Waxes and Wanes,” last week. It is a large-scale show, which takes up the entire MMCA Gwacheon space until Feb. 12, to celebrate its 30th anniversary. The exhibition features 560 pieces of artwork and documents, most of which are part of the collection, while others are newly commissioned.
The exhibits range from familiar works by Korea’s most admired artists such as painters Kim Whan-ki, Park Soo-keun and video art pioneer Nam June Paik, to works that have not been exhibited for decades for a variety of reasons. The works in the former category are scattered throughout the exhibition according to their themes, while those in the latter are together in the “Re-Light” section.
Works by famous foreign artists and hot Korean contemporary artists are seen in the “Interpret Par 2 - Relation” section. This portion of the show might be the most interesting to the public as pieces are paired up using diverse themes.
British artist David Hockney’s photo collage “The Grand Canyon South Rim with Rail” is paired with Korean artist Hwang In-ki’s “Dream Walking,” a re-creation of the famous Korean old painting by pixelizing and building with plastic blocks.
One of the series by the German conceptual artist duo Bernd and Hilla Becher, famous for their photographic series of industrial structures, often called “photographic typologies,” are paired up with Korean photographer Noh Suntag’s “strAnge ball” series, which were inspired by photographic typology in format but carry a much stronger political tone.
“There is no correct answer for why the pairings were made,” said curator of the section, Lim Dae-geun. “The audience will be encouraged to express their views on the pairings on tablet computers installed in the exhibition room and to create their own pairs in this exhibitions.”
The exhibits also include the famous “Travelling Box” by French artist Marcel Duchamp, who is regarded as the early pioneer of postmodern art. It is paired up with Korean artist Kim Beom’s work.
Not only in this section but also in other sections, there are artistic dialogues between dead or old masters and living artists. Paik’s gigantic installation “The More The Better,” the museum’s monumental work, is now surrounded with rope works by artist Lee Seung-taek, who was born in the same year as Paik but has emerged in the international spotlight in the past few years.
Young artist Park Joo-yeon created an installation work embracing the famous portrait of Poet Yi Sang by Ku Bon-ung.
Kang said, “The title ‘As the Moon Waxes and Wanes’ symbolizes the life cycle and destiny of a work of art - from the conditions that prompt the creation of an artwork to the production, circulation, acquisition, utilization, preservation, death, and rebirth of it.”
But to some, the exhibition may seem to be more focused on showcasing what the museum has, what the museum is doing and how the collection is inspiring the artists of the next generation.
BY MOON SO-YOUNG
The exhibition runs through Feb. 12. Admission is free. The museum is closed on Mondays. Go to Seoul Grand Park Station, line No. 4, exit No. 4 and take the shuttle bus.
For more information, visit www.mmca.go.kr or call (02) 2188-6114.