MMCA previews art exhibition for canine connoisseurs
The online preview of a rare exhibition for dogs and their human companions will be uploaded on the YouTube channel of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) at 4 p.m. on Friday. Although the show, titled "A Museum for All, a Museum for Dogs," is ready to open to the public at the national museum's Seoul branch in Samcheong-dong, central Seoul, the museum is closed indefinitely as Seoul remains at its Level 2 social distancing measures since the rebound of daily new Covid-19 cases.
An offline press preview for the exhibition, which features 20 works by 13 teams of artists, architects and landscape architects, was held on Monday. Two dogs, Sesang and Sedong, were invited to enjoy the exhibits. They are the companions of veterinarians Seol Chae-hyeon and Cho Kwang-min, who consulted on the show from its initial stages. First, the furry audience played with a variety of tools that artist Kim Yong-kwan developed and installed in the museum. The human audience will view the tools titled "Beware, I Am Big and Non-dangerous!" as abstract sculptures.
Sesang and Sedong then entered another room, where architect Kim Kyung-jae presents furniture and spaces specially designed for dogs. They are mainly in yellow and blue colors in consideration of the canine perspective characterized by red-green colorblindness. Sedong bravely climbed one of the furniture pieces and barked at the dogs in the film "Can't Wait" by artist Ellie Kyungran Heo, being screened on a nearby monitor.
Along the edges of the exhibition room are tiny hills and trees, which quickly caught the attention of the canines. They are part in "The Forest for All" by landscape architect Smooth Yoo, who intends to create "ambivalent 'natureculture,' something that can never be completely humanized or remain as intact nature," according to Sung Yong-hee, curator of the exhibition.
"Togo and Balto — A Group Sculpture of a Canine Hero Who Saved Humanity" by artist Jung Yeon-doo was sniffed and licked, an unsurprising reaction considering the piece, which depicts two iconic sled dogs who transported diphtheria antitoxin across Alaska in 1925 to save children from an epidemic, is made of dog food.
Finally, the pair of pups played in the "Dream of Dog," a group of white-, yellow- and blue-colored sculptures reminiscent of dog agility equipment, installed in the front yard of the museum. Its creator, Jogakscout, a collective of sculptors, intends the work to be "a future forest for dogs," according to curator Sung.
The 3-year-old female Sesang was more cautious, while 1-year-old female Sedong was very active in enjoying the artworks. "Sesang was rescued from a puppy mill and she had little chance to learn socialization before the rescue," veterinarian Cho explained. "But she became much more lively and active after Sedong came from an ordinary family as her friend."
There are also works for the human companions of dogs to enjoy such as a humorous animation by artist David Shrigley and the two-channel video "Blind Walk" by Hanne Nielsen and Birgit Johnsen.
"Now, Korea has more and more spaces and establishments offering services for both people and their companion animals," curator Sung said. "Amidst such change, this exhibition tests the boundary of the 'all' that a public space of the museum seeks to include. We experiment how far a museum, as a human-oriented construct, can be considerate of nonhuman entities."
Unfortunately the exhibition is scheduled to wrap up on Oct. 25, and it remains uncertain whether the museum will be able to open its doors before then. "We feel regretful about this, so we are considering regularly holding such an exhibition" said Youn Bum-mo, director of the national museum.
BY MOON SO-YOUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]