MMCA Seoul curator Choi Eunju @ SAM

notes from a talk and conversation 10.16.2014
[note some is phoenetic as I couldn't hear her very well]

curator, writer, educator, 25 exhibitions curated
CE writes on curating and the education of curators
She is executive curator of the three contemporary art museums which are part of the National museum; teaches at Seoul National University.
is co-planning with SAM curators to have an exhibition @ SAM (Asian Art Museum or downtown, unclear) in Fall 2015
SAM has recevied a 3 year Mellon grant for this project; also money from Seoul National Museums
new museum MMCA in downtown Seoul opened in 2013 with significant Korean and international artists
she showed a video of installing inaugural exhibition
Suh Doh-Hoh exhibition, House within House (cf 2012 Gwangju Biennale?)
Nam Jun Paik: The Future is Now, a revisiting of 1988 exhibition in old museum, recurated with newer artists (?)
included singing pod, to sing privately (everyone sings)
CE put out vision of contemporary and future
1969 MMCA was established in an old palace
essentially a national vision: promotion of diversity and global culture
now museums contain over 7000 works, including international
170,000 archives among 3 branches
Gwacheon (built in 1986), Downtown Seoul (new one), one other: Deoksukung first built in 1909, Joseon dynasty, annex 1998
artistic vision--dynamism of current and future art through interdisciplinary exchange and organic harmony between tradition and experimentation
recently developed liasons with Singapore Art Museum and Japanese contemporary museum
many Korean modern exhibitions have been successful in recent years with international venues.
Gwancheon has archives, is central hq, good to house collection
has open air garden with 82 sculptures, educational programs from children through professors
new one, downtown, for contemporary and experimental art.
architect (name?) developed open concept: theatre seats 120; multipurpose hall has 380 seats which can be adjusted (eg. put up against wall, foster audience participation, etc.); 8 galleries which can be adjustable space, underground; 6 gardens
2012-10 million people visited Korea; MMCA Seoul is designed to accomodate 2 million annually, has events every weekend
5 opening exhibitions

  1. Zeitgeist exhibition, work since 1980's from MMCA collections, reflect social/political issues, main characteristic of contemporary Korean art
    2} connecting-unfolding--international curators' collaboration
  2. Alef project: new experimental, time aspects, numerous participants? unclear
  3. birth of a museum--MMCA Seoul archive recorded construction project through photographs
  4. site specific scommissioned projects:
    1– Jung Yeondoo–2007
    2–6 curators from UK, Germany, Japan, US, India "connecting" artists convey current interests
    Tacita Dean, Film, selected by UK curator
    Mark Lee, Swiss, proposed a city
    Amar Kanwar–"The Scene of the Crime" conflicts between Pakistan and India; worked with farmers trying to make a better life
    Kim Jones (US [Mudman]), appointed by US curator (New Museum)
    Lee Mingwei: concept of garden, flowers became a present
    Kishio Suga–representative stones from Korean mountains in galleries (did we see this kind of work in Daegu in 2011?)
    Yang Minha–media art which follows visitors' movements
    Scale Free Network: The Elaboratorium 2013, water from Australian Lake
    previous iteration of this museum's space: military site from 1970's see below
    site specific: Home within Home by Suh Do Ho new one with scrim installation
  • Argentine artist
    Choi Una–grant, insect sculpture which moved
    Chang Young-Hae–Heavy Industries
    large scale installations; media art
    made stories about Korea (?)
    –young people
    –philosophical conflicts between North and South
    – sexual (?) story in underground
    3 big lies surrounding Korean society
    (gotta check out this piece--looks as if it's influencing some of what we saw at Gwangju 2014)
    Questions by SAM (?) curator

Q what are trends?

A she tinks of balance; so many artists; many shows; many are traditional; others experimental, curators are intellectuals who seek ambitious work (?)
eg. Chang Young-Hae--famous for text art? made one at Pompidou where used Korean painters in an ambitious work;
multipurpose hall--chairs can move; curators invited experimental artists from many countries, temporary installations

Kim Soun Gui
building reused some older materials, such as bricks

Q differences in contemporary Asian art?

A Korean more serious because of conflict in history, esp recent history: "heavy" subjects [a big reason why I–Alice–like it]

Q madang? garden?

A most essential element of people's life, madang is a food garden of a traditional house
even Joseon kinds wanted beautiful madang at palaces
madang=work together
장진부 마당 [what I thought I heard her say]
1920's building was a modern hospital built by Japanese; National University used it as a teaching hospital
during dictatorship, it was "military securities" building; 1979 Park was assasinated there, unused from then until opening of new museum
curators persuaded some reuse and memory of building
김우사 building (thought that's what she said)
used as museum administration during construction; found red brick underneath "the skin" to use in construction of new complex
50K visitors per week; costs ₩4,000 ($4); events are free