Newsletter Vol.3

  • MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2019: Park Chan-kyong – Gathering Opens
  • Hyundai Commission: Kara Walker: Fons Americanus opens at Tate Modern
  • Hyundai Motor Company takes a step forward with the Yuz Museum Shanghai

  • MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2019: Park Chan-kyong – Gathering Opens
    Park Chan-kyong
      In February 2019, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) announced Park Chan-kyong as the sixth artist of the MMCA Hyundai Motor Series. Park Chan-kyong’s Gathering was finally unveiled at MMCA Seoul on October 26, 2019. Park has come to the fore in Korea and the international art scene with series of film, installation, and photographic works on topics such as the division of the Korean Peninsula, Cold War, folk religion, shamanism and modernity in East Asia. In Gathering, Park weaves modern and contemporary histories with myths to reflect on the roles of art and museum as systems in the wake of disasters.

      Gathering presents a total of nine works by Park Chan-kyong, including Sets, an earlier work from 2000. Several works are presented for the first time: Belated Bosal; Small Museum of Art; Fukushima, Autoradiography; Barefoot; and Gallery 5. The first section of the exhibition hall is occupied by Small Museum of Art, an installation with openings in the wall intended to function as “frames” for the works exhibited in the following sections. The display offers visitors to realize that they are viewing exhibitions through the very lens that the curator of the show sees through. In this section, Park presents a selection of works that capture aesthetic practices and experiences of temples and shrines before art museums existed in Korea. Temples and shrines were public yet secluded spaces where personal wishes and prayers were offered, as they still are today. Park Chan-kyong explains that those spaces not only housed images and sculptures, but were also a locality that connected individuals and community, and the sacred and secular worlds. Small Museum of Art literally functions as a “small” museum, through which Park challenges the conventional meaning of art history and art museums. He argues that the latter is just another institution forced onto us, and by framing the exhibition in this approach, Park directs visitors to adopt a new awareness and perspective toward MMCA.

      Park Chan-kyong’s critical examination of exhibition space and art institutions carries on in the next section, where he discusses the aftermath of disasters using the Fukushima nuclear disaster and Siddhartha Gautama’s enlightenment to nirvana. In Fukushima, Autoradiography, Park’s photos of a village damaged by the Fukushima disaster and Masamichi Kagaya’s autoradiography that captures images of radiation are alternately shown. Sets (2000) is juxtaposed with Fukushima, Autoradiography to show Park’s particularity of finding and focusing on the similarities between different subjects. Occupying the center of the main exhibition gallery is Water Mark, comprised of wooden decks and 16 cement panels that resemble sea waves. This installation alludes to the tragic Sewol Ferry disaster in 2014. Its Korean title Haein is originally a Buddhist word referring to seas that reflect everything in the world, but paradoxically, Park’s cement slabs fail to reflect anything. Five expert lectures and discussions are scheduled to take place in this main exhibition space, with audience sitting on the wooden decks that surround the panels. Park Chan-kyong believes that “discussion on art” is art in and of itself. On that note, exhibition galleries serve a crucial role as places where these “discussions on art” and different “gatherings” are held.

      Belated Bosal follows in the next section, tying together two strikingly different events: the historical and religious event of Siddhartha Gautama’s nirvana, and the contemporary Fukushima nuclear disaster. This 55-minute film was produced mostly in black and white and makes viewers associate the work with radiation photos from Fukushima. Clips of a middle-aged woman wandering in the mountains and those of a woman walking through the mountains to collect radioactive contamination data are overlapped. Scenes of radioactive pollution overlaid with meticulously edited clips instigate the clashing of thoughts. Different components of the video such as images of characters who divert from the anticipated narrative, mountains in the background, Buddhist myths, nuclear power plants, and art seem entirely unrelated. Yet, this disconnect sends a clear message about improbability witnessed in today’s world. Those who viewed Belated Bosal contemplate on the nirvana of Siddhartha Gautama, processes leading up to death, and “gatherings” that take place at someone’s death. As does Fukushima, Autoradiography, Belated Bosal encourages us to step back from conventional images of light, atmosphere, radiation, and nature, and adopt new viewpoints.

      The last part of the exhibition presents Gallery 5, which is a miniature model of the actual exhibition hall. One-twenty-fifth (1/25) the original size, this installation leads visitors out of the conventional exhibition viewing experience, noted through the frame-like display in the first part of the show. As visitors view the miniature installation, they rethink the connection between art and museums, and the tie between visitors and their art viewing experience. Visitors contemplate art, art museums, and exhibitions in their own ways, free from authorities or forced frameworks, and they engage as active agents of the “gathering” intended by this exhibition. By placing Gallery 5 in the last part of the exhibition hall, Park Chan-kyong conveys that this exhibition is not a complete project, but rather a design and imagination realized into form. A bird’s eye view of the gallery takes us out from the exhibition space and makes us think about what it means to view an exhibition.

      Youn Bummo, MMCA Director, said, “Park Chan-kyong brings critical observations of East Asia’s cultural and historical contexts in his first solo exhibition at MMCA. Park’s new works cross over different media and genres and open up an in-depth discourse. We hope that this exhibition will expand the boundaries of Korean contemporary art.”

      MMCA Hyundai Motor Series is hosted by MMCA and sponsored by Hyundai Motor Company. The ten-year partnership began in 2014 and has presented exhibitions of established Korean artists annually. Every year, an artist who has established a unique artistic realm is selected and sponsored to present a major solo exhibition with new works. The program intends to provide a momentum for change and development in the selected artist’s career, and to invigorate Korean contemporary art at home and abroad. MMCA Hyundai Motor Series has established itself as an exemplary case of corporate sponsorship in art and continues to contribute to the promotion of Korean contemporary art. Beginning with Lee Bul in 2014, and followed by Ahn Kyuchul (2015), Kimsooja (2016), Im Heung-soon (2017), and CHOIJEONGHWA (2018), respectively, all MMCA Hyundai Motor Series artists renewed and further solidified their standings as leading Korean artists through this program. MMCA Hyundai Motor Series: Park Chan-kyong – Gathering is open to the public at MMCA Seoul from October 26, 2019 to February 23, 2020.

    Hyundai Commission: Kara Walker: Fons Americanus opens at Tate Modern

    Hyundai Commission: Kara Walker: Fons Americanus (Click to Play Video)
      Hyundai Motor and Tate Modern entered into a unique long-term partnership in 2014 to support the growth and enrichment of contemporary art. The Hyundai Commission presents large-scale and innovative site-specific work annually in Tate Modern’s iconic Turbine Hall through this partnership, which is to continue until 2025. On October 2, the fifth Hyundai Commission titled Fons Americanus by Kara Walker was revealed. Fons Americanus is the creative output of the artist’s exploration of the untold histories behind human progress, rooted in her studies on African diaspora. Kara Walker’s work explores issues of race, gender, sexuality, violence, and identity within a historic and contemporary context. Her work in the Turbine Hall offers a new perspective to historic events while prompting another question about: “What is remembered and what is forgotten through historical monuments?”

      Fons Americanus is a 13-meter tall fountain, inspired by the Victoria Memorial erected in front of the Buckingham Palace in 1911, built as a monument to Queen Victoria and the British Empire. Despite the memorial being a key inspiration for the commission, Fons Americanus tells a different story. The fountain is an allegory of the Black Atlantic, exploring the interconnected histories of Africa, America and Europe through fact, fiction and fantasy. Using water as a key theme, the artist references the transatlantic slave trade and the ambitions, fates and tragedies of people from these three continents. Her fountain thus upends the original symbol for which the Victoria Memorial stands, offering a powerful critique, inverting the usual function of memorials and questioning the narratives of power they present.

      The work itself consists of a centerpiece, standing above two oval tiers filled with water and surrounded by sculptures. The central pedestal supports a reinterpreted statue of Venus, with water sprouting from her neck and breasts. Walker’s Venus is a representation of a priestess from Afro-Brazilian and Caribbean religions. On the rear side of the fountain is a sculptural reference to Emmett Till, a young teenager who was abducted, lynched, murdered, and then abandoned in the Tallahatchie River by white supremacists in 1955. This figure reminds us not only of Till’s tragic death but also of the scars left behind by racism and violence that has persisted throughout history. Kara Walker also drew inspiration from a variety of art historical and literary sources including J.M.W. Turner’s Slave Ship (1840), Winslow Homer’s The Gulf Stream(1899), and Damien Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991). The Christian image of Pietà, depicting Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Christ, and Thomas Stothard’s The Voyage of the Sable Venus from Angola to the West Indies (1801), a slave trade propaganda in the 19th century, also served as her key motifs

      Fons Americanus is a unique sculptural installation, not only in context, but also in its construction. Kara Walker worked with the fabrication studio Millimetre in Brighton to build her fountain with an ecologically conscious process, minimizing unrecyclable waste. The work was created with sustainable non-toxic materials, including recyclable cork, wood and metal, coated in a solvent-free acrylic and cement composite.

      The fifth Hyundai Commission is curated by Clara Kim, The Daskalopoulos Senior Curator, International Art (Africa, Asia & Middle East), Tate Modern, with former Tate Assistant Curator, Priyesh Mistry, and Petra Schmidt, Production Manager, Tate Modern. Clara Kim explains, “From its size and texture to the story it encompasses and all the images and references on which the work was built upon, Kara Walker’s newest work on view in the Turbine Hall is absolutely fascinating.” She added that this working fountain will function like fountains in town squares; visitors from all corners of the world will sit on the edge of the fountain’s base, engage in conversations with one another, walk around the fountain, take photos, and spend their leisure time, enjoying the fountain in their own ways. Through these personal moments with Fons Americanus, visitors will second-handedly experience and remember the tragic history of slave trade in the 19th century while developing new perspectives on understanding monuments.

      The Hyundai Commission is undertaken with a different artist or collective each year, creating site-specific works for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. The inaugural installation was undertaken in 2015 by Abraham Cruzvillegas, and since then, the project has introduced works by acclaimed artists Philippe Parreno (2016), SUPERFLEX (2017), and Tania Bruguera (2018). Hyundai Commission: Kara Walker: Fons Americanus is on view at Tate Modern from October 2, 2019 to April 5, 2020.

    Hyundai Motor Company takes a step forward with the Yuz Museum Shanghai
    “In Production: Art and the Studio System,” Installation View, Yuz Museum,
    2019 ©Yuz Museum, Photo by JJYPhoto
      Hyundai Motor Company announced that it will extend its global contribution to art and culture through sponsorships for the Yuz Museum Shanghai. This new endeavor is part of the company’s partnership with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) that began in 2015. The decision was made to consolidate the company’s commitment to support art and to celebrate the growing appreciation of art in China. Beginning with an inaugural exhibition of this new endeavor, In Production: Art and the Studio System, Hyundai Motor Company will support future exhibitions and new programs at the Yuz Museum Shanghai.

      Located in the Xuhui District of Shanghai, the Yuz Museum Shanghai is a non-profit organization under the umbrella of the YUZ Foundation, founded by the Chinese-Indonesian entrepreneur and art collector Budi Tek. With its main gallery occupying over 3,000m2 alone, the museum covers 9,000m2 in total area. The museum building was originally a hangar of Longhua Airport, which was in service until the 1960s. When the building was repurposed as a gallery, the key principle in its renovation was to maintain the historical structure of the original hangar and to create an interplay between the existing architecture and newly added design. The renovated exhibition space, which values local history and inherits the architectural characteristics of the original building, demonstrates the Yuz Museum’s vision for the convergence of old and new as well as East and West.

      Yuz Museum Shanghai houses a wide range of art works from the contemporary era, with Chinese contemporary painting from the early 1980s to the late 1990s making up a big part of its collection. The museum is currently organizing an exhibition series that introduces contemporary art in China to the world. Through collaborations with different overseas art and cultural institutions, Yuz Museum Shanghai hopes to promote Asian art around the world. Its founder, Budi Tek, is also raising international awareness of Asian art, serving as a member of the Tate’s Asia-Pacific Acquisitions Committee. Mr. Tek started the collection with Chinese contemporary paintings, but as he began to broaden his scope of interest beyond Asian art, he has been steadily adding new works to the museum’s collection. Most recent acquisitions include works of acclaimed contemporary artists such as Maurizio Cattelan, Fred Sandback, and Adel Abdessemed. The collection on view in the galleries of the grand museum building presents a magnificent scene and delivers a special experience of art appreciation to the museum visitors.

      In this new partnership between Hyundai Motor Company, LACMA, and the Yuz Museum, the YUZ Foundation plays a key role as the facilitating organization. The role of LACMA and the Yuz Museum is to collaboratively develop and manage exhibitions, public programs, and the art collection, while Hyundai Motor Company supports the inaugural exhibition of the partnership and other museum programs as the presenting sponsor. The company has already introduced a groundbreaking arts and culture program at Hyundai Motor Studio Beijing and will continue to engage in dialogues with the local and global audiences through new exhibitions and programs in Shanghai. A representative of Hyundai Motor Company said, “We have been delivering unique experience by supporting various art initiatives in partnerships with museums in Europe, North America, and Asia since 2015. The company hopes to continue this endeavor and reach out to the greater public by fueling rapid transformations witnessed in the arts and culture scenes in Shanghai with the newly established partnership.”

      The inaugural exhibition of this partnership titled In Production: Art and the Studio System opened at the Yuz Museum Shanghai on November 7. The exhibition is co-organized by LACMA and the Yuz Museum, and it features works of 24 contemporary artists to explore how visual arts and filmmaking sites transformed in the last two decades. Mike Kelly, Douglas Gordon, Alex Prager and Martine Syms are among the participating artists, whose works help visitors trace the evolution of visual art and cinematic production studios and to explore the overlapping histories of visual art and film. A range of film and video-related works from the LACMA collection are included in the exhibition to provide different perspectives to understanding studios and traverse different moments in the histories of visual art and cinema. Though both film production studio and art studio realize imaginations and innovations into tangible works, they have distinct characters from one another. In a film studio, experts from various fields convene and work together as a team to produce images for the screen, while the latter is typically regarded as a space where artists work in solitude, honing their skills and constantly engaging in creative practice. Yet, the general concept of studio itself is being renewed with the advent of new technologies and new forms of art since the late 20th century. Given that Shanghai is the cradle of contemporary film and contemporary art in China, it is a befitting location to host an exhibition exploring “dematerialized” and “distributed” studio of the contemporary age.

      Two additional exhibitions sponsored by Hyundai Motor Company are to follow the inaugural exhibition respectively in March and May 2020. The partnership will also launch new programs that will serve as platforms for communication and discussion with the local audience in Shanghai. Hyundai Motor Company has been supporting arts and culture through global art initiatives driven by long-term partnerships with acclaimed institutions, including LACMA, Tate Modern, and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA). In turn, these partnerships have inspired Hyundai Motor Company to incorporate cultural and artistic value to automotive innovations and corporate management. The unique corporate value influenced by its art programs and partnerships is reflected in Hyundai Motor Company’s brand philosophy.