Seoul Museum takes look at the nature of relationships

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Seoul Museum takes look at the nature of relationships


Taiwanese photographer Hsin Wang’s 2014 works, “De-Selfing NO.08,” left, and “De-Selfing NO.12,” are part of a group exhibition “Love Potion - Ten Rooms, Three Hearts,” which runs at Seoul Museum of Art in central Seoul until March 4. [SEOUL MUSEUM]

In the popular Italian opera “L’elisir d’amore,” poor peasant Nemorino believes he will gain the love of beautiful landowner Adina only if he gets hold of a magic potion.

In the modern day, there are people who still believe in the existence of a surefire way to earn someone’s heart. In Korea, the booming business of relationship consulting services speaks volumes.

Taking this trend into consideration, Seoul Museum organized a special exhibition that touches upon the vanity of such efforts and reaffirms the old wisdom that a relationship can be only built on a true, sincere heart, selfless devotion and honesty.

The exhibition “Love Potion - Ten Rooms, Three Hearts” is also the latest in the museum’s series of collaborative exhibits that combines art with various cultural content. In 2015, the museum showed a movie-themed art exhibition. Last year, it brought Korean pop songs and its culture into the museum.

For this show, the museum invited a total of 10 artists from Korea, Taiwan, America, Japan and Spain, whose bodies of artwork are considered to fit into the theme of the emotional rollercoaster that one in love would experience.

The museum curator Ahn Jin-woo said the museum had, first of all, planned out the exhibition’s concept and broken it down into 10 different feelings - five being Adina’s feelings and the rest being Nemorino’s. And then, it went to search for artists in and out of the country who could perfectly express those feelings through their work.

Advancing into the exhibition hall where songs from the opera fill the air, viewers can visually explore the process of how a relationship evolves and the delicate emotional ups-and-downs that come with it.

Spanish 3-D illustrator Irma Gruenholz captures the confusing state of mind of a couple who are about to venture into a new relationship. The Madrid-based artist builds and hand-sculpts illustrations, which she then photographs. In the exhibition, a handful of her photos demonstrates the complex feelings of Adina at a loss between two men - Belcore and Nemorino.

Meanwhile, the museum introduces the work by Taiwanese photographer Hsin Wang for the first time in Korea. Through biographical photography, the New York-based artist expresses the moment of enlightenment that a successful relationship starts with letting go of one’s obsession over the other person.

Another noteworthy artist is American photographer Bob Carey.

He became an internet sensation when his “Tutu Project” went viral in 2012. In a series of funny photos, he wore only a pink tutu and went around the most unlikely places such as subway stations, a desert and beaches. He started the project initially to cheer up his wife who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now his project has grown into a social campaign to fight against cancer.

For this exhibition, his work, also being shown in the country for the first time, is aimed at telling people that selfless devotion and courage are powerful tools to move someone’s heart.

Before exiting the exhibition, gallerygoers can check out an edited clip that shows parts of Hollywood movies that use opera songs as their soundtrack.

“We would like to lower people’s emotional barrier to opera and send out a message that the art genre is actually deeply rooted in our life,” curator Ahn said.

The exhibition runs through March 4.

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