MMCA exhibition highlights art in pandemic era
To what extent does a pandemic affect a society and its individuals? How can art capture this process? Can art be a means to reflect upon and heal the scars from a pandemic?
"Catastrophe and Recovery," a new exhibition taking place at the Seoul wing of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA), looks into these questions through the eyes of 35 Korean and international artists whose works navigate the new coronavirus and its effects.'
The 60 pieces of artwork on view include new works by artists like Francis Alys, Liam Gillick, Do Ho Suh, Lee Bae and Oh Wonbae, as well as existing ones by Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Eun Rim Ro, Anicka Yi, Gillian Wearing, Tatsuo Miyajima, Young Joo Lee and Candida Hofer, according to the MMCA.
The exhibition is curated into the five sections of "Signs and Symptoms," "Jipkok, Homebound Together," "Numbers and Distance," "Outside Here, Inside There" and "Daily Life Deferred, Contemplations during a Pause."
While "Signs and Symptoms" and "Numbers and Distance" take a more analytic approach to the worldwide phenomenon, interpreting the signs, symbols and numbers of the global pandemic, "Jipkok, Homebound Together" captures how human connection still remains important despite the physical distance social distancing has brought.
The word jipkok used for the section's title is a Korean portmanteau of jip, which means house, and the suffix kok, which refers to staying stuck at a certain place. "Jipkok" has emerged as an everyday term here as people opt to stay at home amid the pandemic.'
"Outside Here, Inside There" questions the definition of physical and temporal spaces and how the pandemic has changed the dynamics of public and private spaces and how we perceive these different notions.
"Daily Life Deferred, Contemplations during a Pause" urges viewers to reflect on how humanity has harmed the planet and suggests that it should instead seek to coexist with nature and non-human life.
A "satellite exhibition" is also taking place on the sidelines of the exhibition. The project is an internal reflection for the MMCA, exploring the changing roles of museums in the pandemic as well as the circumstances for producing contemporary art.'
MMCA Director Youn Bummo pinned hopes on the exhibition serving as a means to "ponder upon the changes and future of our lives and to seek comport and hope through the works that have been created by a group of diverse artists."
The exhibition runs through Aug. 1.