Newsletter Vol.4

  • Haegue Yang named the artist for MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2020
  • Online Viewing Rooms
  • Anicka Yi announced as the next Hyundai Commission Artist

  • Haegue Yang named the artist for MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2020
    Haegue Yang, Taipei Dangdai 2019
    Photo: Sebastiano Pellion Di Persano, Image provided by MMCA
      The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) announced Haegue Yang as the seventh artist to take up the MMCA Hyundai Motor Series, hosted by MMCA and sponsored by the Hyundai Motor Company. Haegue Yang is an internationally acclaimed artist based in Seoul and Berlin, known for her hybrid sculptures and large-scale installations that interweave global narratives with everyday objects. The artist continuously produced and exhibited works exploring themes, such as the relationship between narratives and abstraction, domesticity, migration, and borders in her rich career over two decades. However, the artist has not been exhibited as often in Korea, which makes MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2020 an excellent opportunity for the Korean audience to explore Haegue Yang’s oeuvre in depth.

      Haegue Yang reinterpreted a broad spectrum of cultural references that encompass historic figures, events, and natural and societal phenomena using her mesmerizing yet rigorous visual languages. By dislodging these unfamiliar references from the chronology of linear time and reframing them, her works enable viewers to consider the present anew. Mass-produced commodities and labor-intensive processes are simultaneously employed in many of her pieces. For these reasons, her art world is lauded for its powerful aesthetics as well as an intellectual depth that ventures beyond simplistic or didactic readings.

      The mode of Yang’s work is essentially inclusive by implying layers of multiplicities. She adopts sociocultural approaches in dealing with notions such as domesticity and craft, and chooses mysticism over modernist rationalism, developing her own abstract methodology based on geometric modulations. Notions pertaining to culture, civilization, eras, and time are questioned and reconfigured within her works. While world history has been compartmentalized through geopolitics since modernism, Yang proposes to reconsider this fragmentary and hegemonic perspective in a reflective manner. Mobilizing abstract parameters such as grids and orbits, she attempts to envision the world overlap, reflect, and multiply as a non-hierarchic kaleidoscope to overcome boundaries. The artist’s unique matrix of diagrams mutate the physical spaces of the museum’s architecture into a complexity of perspectives.

      In MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2020, Haegue Yang is to present her newest sculpture ensemble Sonic Domesticus(2020). Household objects engaged with “domesticity” are amplified, expanded, and transformed to anthropoid scale, and are imbued with the metaphoric and speculative presence of human life. The magnified theme of domesticity is not only visited in this work, but also has been a long-time subject of interest for the artist. In addition to Sonic Domesticus, Haegue Yang will also present a digital mural and a large-scale advertising balloon installation thematizing natural phenomena, which extends her previous exploration of immaterial sensorial elements. MMCA’s Seoul Box will be occupied by a near 10-meter-tall Venetian blind sculpture, Silo of Silence—Clicked Core(2017). This hanging sculpture has been previously installed in 2017 in the Boiler House of the KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art, Berlin, formerly a brewery. Silo of Silence—Clicked Core is an iconic work demonstrating the recent development in Yang’s famous blind installations, which have evolved since inception over fifteen years ago.

      Director of MMCA, Youn Bummo, announced the publication of an anthology that collects writings over the last two decades alongside the exhibition. The collection is a culmination of three years of scholarly research that commenced upon Yang’s selection for the MMCA Hyundai Motor Series at the end of 2017. In announcing the exhibition and the forthcoming anthology, Youn stated, “Haegue Yang is one of the most influential artists of our time, and this major retrospective will unfold and explore her art world in a variety of ways.”

      Haegue Yang has been working actively in Seoul and Germany since the mid-1990s, and she has been invited to participate in major international art exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale and documenta 13 in Kassel. Her works have been recently acquired and exhibited by renowned art institutions around the world, such as Centre Pompidou, Museum Ludwig, Museum of Modern Art, and Tate Modern, attesting to the accolade she receives as a leading contemporary artist. In 2018, Yang won the Korean Culture and Arts Award (Presidential Citation) and was also named the first Asian female artist winner of the Wolfgang Hahn Prize. She currently holds a chair as a professor of fine arts at Stäedelschule in Frankfurt.

      Hosted by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, and sponsored by Hyundai Motor Company, MMCA Hyundai Motor Series is a ten-year art initiative that presents a solo exhibition of a seasoned Korean artist every year. The program provides an opportunity for the selected artist in his or her mid-career to realize new, large-scale artworks, and thereby serves as a turning point and advancement in the artist’s career. The initiative also aims to ultimately propel the promotion of Korean contemporary art at home and abroad. The exhibition series has contributed tremendously to the development of Korean contemporary art by setting the best corporate sponsorship practice that creates synergy between art and business. Lee Bul, Ahn Kyuchul, Kimsooja, Im Heung-soon, Choi Jeonghwa, and Park Chan-kyong have been named the MMCA Hyundai Motor Series artists between 2014 and 2019, respectively. Works by artists with distinct styles and unique perspectives are presented to the audience every year through the MMCA Hyundai Motor Series. The Series helps the general audience understand the current state and direction of Korean contemporary art.

    Online Viewing Rooms
    LACMA @ home (https://www.lacma.org)
      The media points out that the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) will evidently cast its shadows for quite some time. The number of confirmed cases in Europe has far exceeded that of Asia and state leaders who have been precautious to make negative assumptions are now claiming that the world is facing “the worst crisis since World War II” and their countries are in “war footings.” With governments announcing nationwide lockdowns and restricting social activities, cultural and art sectors are no exceptions from experiencing the impacts of the virus. Public institutions have already announced long-term closings, and performances and exhibitions organized by private institutions have also been called off or postponed indefinitely.

      Art institutions and art fair organizers are quickly turning to online platforms as part of the countermeasures against not being able to host exhibitions. The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) announced that it will strengthen its existing online exhibition content on YouTube, in which the exhibition curator introduces artworks in display. The National Museum of Korea (NMK) opened “The VR Museum” by moving eight exhibitions from the past online, including Gaya Spirit – Iron and Tune and The Etruscans – Rising to Rome. Art Basel Hong Kong was held in March as scheduled, but only through the Online Viewing Room instead of the usual gallery booths, which was unprecedented in the fair’s history.

      Art institutions have been turning to the cyber space for a few decades already to make art more readily accessible. In 1991, The National Gallery in London developed the Micro Gallery, a computer-based guide to its archives and collections. The Louvre, the British Museum and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum also opened their websites and created the “Cyber Gallery” or “Online Collection” to show parts of their collections online. Art institutions today have stepped up their online programs. For example, LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) uses its online channel to provide fulfilling visual, auditory, learning, reading, and exploratory experiences to its visitors. Visitors can watch video clips, view exhibitions, and examine archival material online while LACMA educators, curators, and other art experts serve as personal docents who deepen visitors’ understandings and also enrich their museum experiences. The Korean government also led initiatives to launch e-museums and e-libraries around the same time global art institutions began to adopt the cyber space as their exhibition and archival spaces. Around the same time, the Korean government led initiatives to launch e-museums and e-libraries. Although neither is available today, a consolidated search system of MMCA, NMK, and the Korean Film Archive and a cyber gallery for 5,470 pieces of government-owned artworks were created. National and public museums have continuously invested in building their collections databases, providing service for online access, and strengthening mobile-friendly content for smartphones, tablets, and PCs to supplement in-person museum visits. Most recently, museums have begun to adopt cutting-edge technologies such as augmented reality and 3D technology to support their online exhibition programs providing museum experience to customers without physical attendance. There are several reasons behind why museums digitize their collections and implement new technologies to their programs. The main reason is for the public good; museums acknowledge their collections as public property and want to share their historical and artistic value with researchers and the general public who cannot otherwise easily access the works.

      From its motivation to operation and sales, online platforms used by the art community stimulates a great deal of curiosity. No visitors physically attended this year’s Art Basel Hong Kong, but it had more than 230 participating galleries and showcased over 2,000 art works. As per usual, VIPs had access during the vernissage before the fair opened to the general public, despite the event’s being held online. Upon entering the Online Viewing Rooms, visitors could search the participating galleries, artists, works, media, and price of the works on sale, and collectors interested in purchasing artworks were directed to the corresponding gallery representatives. David Zwirner Gallery, which has branches in New York, London, Paris, and Hong Kong, has been running its own Viewing Room since 2017 and has presented a total of 53 online exhibitions thus far. At this year’s Art Basel Hong Kong, the gallery presented an online show titled On Painting: Art Basel Online, featuring newest works by Jeff Koons and paintings by Christopher Ofili, Sigmar Polke, Neo Rauch and others. David Zwirner Gallery’s online sales director said the Viewing Room not only offers an alternative to gallery visits but also provides substantial support in collector management and new collector acquisitions. This means that the introduction of new online platforms has lowered the barriers for entry for those who are unfamiliar with art purchase.

      A number of digital art-only online galleries are also on the rise. Vngravity, DDDD, dis.art, Sedition, and left gallery are commercializing downloadable artworks such as video, sound, 3D animation, applications, and software-based works. These galleries are also utilizing the online network and digital technologies to propose a new exhibition framework. Vngravity runs a nonprofit gallery from which people can download and view 3D animations and GIFs for free. Berlin and Seoul-based web platform DDDD exhibits and sells works created from an artist-curator-technician collaboration. dis.art, launched in 2018, provides online streaming service of video works for subscription members. Sedition and left gallery are utilizing decentralized databases backed by blockchain technology for their digital art sales.

      The world faces the challenges of a new normal in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak, and art communities in Korea and abroad are seeking new alternatives to art creation and exhibitions through online platforms. The spotlight is now on emerging online platforms, their potentials, and their contributions to expanding the role of art as inspirational public property.

    Anicka Yi announced as the next Hyundai Commission Artist
    Anicka Yi portrait
    Photo Credit David Heald
     Hyundai Motor Company and Tate Modern announced Anicka Yi as the sixth artist of the Hyundai Commission. Hyundai Commission is a large-scale exhibition project held annually as part of the 11-year long partnership between Hyundai Motor and Tate Modern. Every year, the selected artist is presented with an opportunity to create a new installation in the iconic Turbine Hall, which occupies the central space of the power station-turned-museum building.

      Anicka Yi explores links between art and science and focuses on philosophical research on new forms of life and cognitive development. She has been exploring contemporary social topics such as migration, class, and gender. Yi’s recent works have featured a fragrance incorporating chemical compounds from humans and ants, which is an unconventional or rather unfamiliar sense, employed in art practice. Through collaborations with biologists, chemists, and perfumers, Yi explores a range of senses and sensibilities while also delivering sociopolitical messages. Examples of such work include her installations presented at the 2019 Venice Biennale. She created multiple giant kelp pods filled with animatronic insects and hung rectangular acrylic panels filled with Venetian soil. By using artificial intelligence to control the organic environment inside the panels, Yi sparked discussion on how the machine’s sensorium (artificial intelligence) perceives the world and communicates within it. Anicka Yi is also known for her use of unconventional materials such as leather made from kombucha in her works that examine contemporary ideologies or psychological states. Metal pins that corrode in ultrasonic gel and perfume made with chemical compounds derived from humans and ants are also among her unique and innovative works that fuse biology, science, and cutting-edge technology. Anicka Yi’s works stimulate various human senses as we view them. The artist continues to create vivid and dynamic works that bring together various components of life—from art to science.

      Born in Seoul, Korea, Anicka Yi and her family immigrated to Alabama, United States, when she was two years old. She grew up in California and now lives and works in New York City. Yi currently exhibits around the world, having been invited as a solo exhibition artist at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Kunsthalle Basel in Switzerland, and Fridericianum in Kassel, Germany. She is also the winner of the Hugo Boss Prize 2016 and her work featured in the 2016 Gwangju Biennale, 2017 Whitney Biennial, and 2019 Venice Biennale. Yi has also participated in residencies and creative programs of the Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles, Headland Center for the Arts, and the Center for Art, Science and Technology at MIT.

       In speaking of Anicka Yi and her work, Frances Morris, director of Tate Modern, said “Her installations are unforgettable, using the latest scientific ideas and experimental materials in unexpected ways. The results not only engage the senses, but also tackle some of the big questions we face today about humanity’s relationship to nature and technology.” Hyundai Commission: Anicka Yi will be led by Tate Modern Senior Curator Mark Godfrey, Petra Schmidt, Production Manager, and Carly Whitefield, Assistant Curator.

       Representative of Hyundai Motor Company said, “We are delighted to support the sixth annual Hyundai Commission by Anicka Yi. Her exploratory and interdisciplinary works add valuably to contemporary conversations surrounding art and science, and we look forward to how her work will reflect on the ever-evolving connections between humans and technologies.”

      Hyundai Commission began in 2015 as part of the 11-year partnership between Hyundai Motor Company and Tate Modern, featuring Abraham Cruzvillegas as the first artist. Since then, it has presented large scale works by internationally renowned artists Philippe Parreno (2016), SUPERFLEX (2017), Tania Bruguera (2018), and Kara Walker (2019).

      Hyundai Motor seeks inspiration from all realms to create new values and make progress towards a shared future. The company’s commitment to supporting art and its global communities has led to long-term partnerships with museums and organizations around the world. The aim is to encourage exploring of innovative and creative ideas while enabling better access to experiencing art. Through its global art initiatives, Hyundai Motor supports the development of a sustainable art environment with the belief that art is a lens that can help us expand our understandings of the world and move forward with the right questions.