So Saturday we met up in my neighborhood and went to MOCA, which stands for the Museum of Contemporary Art. I think when I end up going to a museum that the Art History nerd inside of me wakes up and I become this kind of "know-it-all and I am going to tell you" type person. But still it was really nice to get inside a museum again.
This museum is not far from my area, located in Gwacheon near Seoul Land. It was a rainy cool day so going inside to view some art fit well.
Multiple / Dialogue Exhibition:
When you first enter the museum you walk into an area where there is a spiral ramp which leads upwards to a skylight. In the center is Nam June Paik's "The more, the better."
When seeing Paik's works I am usually first set into a daze as the flickering images on the screens go in and out. After waking up a bit I usually look around the whole piece and take in the breadth of the size and scale. This particular work of his reminded me of pagodas, especially with the long rod like construction on top. Certainly you can make a lot of parallels between his media and technology saturated imagery and the way in which Buddhist temples, pagodas and statues have that gargantuan feeling.
Visitors are greeted with “The more, the better” by artist Nam June Paik, which was installed at the center of the Ramp Core in 1988. 1,003 TVs, a number that was chosen to represent Korea’s National Foundation Day, October 3, are installed in a round tower 18.5m high and 7.5m in diameter. This vast cone-shaped video tower is the first work of art that visitors see in the main entrance hall, and each monitor can be individually appreciated by walking up and down the slope of the Ramp Core.
But there is more at play here than Paik's centerpiece. Alongside the spiraling ramp is a coinciding exhibit of Ik Koong Jang's retrospective works.
Kang’s Samramansang, which features around his 60,000 ‘3×3 inches’ works, will be installed on the 200-meter long spiral wall that ascends around the stately video tower of The More The Better, together with his other works in the forms of object, video, sound and interactive media art.Covering every inch of the wall leading up the ramp were tiles, paintings, found objects and displays. The breadth of the work is overwhelming as you not only take in the delicately painted tiles which feature Hangeul, but also tiny video screens and boxes emitting sound. Definitely I felt saturated in this installation piece while Paik's piece in the center kept me going up and up to see more.
There were some parts to the spiral ramp that had showcases, this one displaying typical restaurant food one usually finds outside a storefront here. But this time the food was dressed up with toys. It was a very fanciful transliteration of the everyday kitsch objects that are found outside storefronts.
The theme or concept of the artist was to create an interactive and not passive part of this installation.
Viewers are invited to participate in the dialogue between the two artists as they experience constantly blinking Paik’s video images on one hand and on the other the endless flow of Kang’s ‘3×3 inches’ pieces. And they will find themselves climbing up to the summit which possesses infinite dialogues and encounters.The interaction I saw consisted of viewers photographing each other as the walked up the ramp. There were some spots where live video was showing you walking upwards.
I think though the most interaction was visual as your eyes went from Paik's work to Jang's pieces on the wall.
Chalo! India - Special Exhibit:
Currently at the museum they are featuring a special exhibit of contemporary Indian art. First of all, I was excited to see art from India inside Korea. Why? Indian contemporary art is a rare site to see in America unless you live near major museums. Even still it is known that large scale exhibits of art from India don't usually travel to America. This is coming from my own opinion and may not be factual, but I think it is well known.
This exhibit comes to Korea from the Mori Art Museum in Japan and within it is packaged the idea to show people a different view of India.
To be honest this exhibit is a lot to take in not just visually but also mentally. I know art is meant to evoke emotions and thinking, but to truly grasp this exhibits concepts one must try harder than acknowledging what was on the surface.
My museum partner (the new guy) seemed to have his own stance on art. For instance, I know he wasn't coming from an artistic background where he was taught post-modern art and the whole kit-and-caboodle that comes with it. So I had to distill my reactions to the work to evoke a response from him. Yet he has a really creative mind and also was willing to argue with me about the artworks. By the way, yes he is Korean.
However, contemporary art is still an area of the art world that is not an easy pill to swallow no matter your artistic or cultural background. Contemporary art, as you should know, goes beyond just 'creating something that is beautiful.'
What I am trying to say is that I allowed the new guy to tell me what he thought about the artworks without giving him a lecture in response. Instead I took his physical responses to the artwork (sight and sound) and worked with him to elicit the meaning behind it.
As for the exhibit itself the layout was broken up into a kind path. Meant to lead you through the curator's concepts.
The exhibition guides the viewers to 'India Now' through the five sections of 'Prologue: journeys,' 'Creation and Destruction: Urban Landscape,' 'Reflections: Between Extremes,' 'Fertile Chaos,' and 'Epilogue: Individuality and Collectivity / Memory and Future'. There are revealed in a state of disorder the questions of the individual and society, identity, the city, civilization, memory and so forth. We may be embarrassed by our own unfamiliarity with the coexistence and chaos of diverse voices. Then, India will ask us - Can you endure the tense energy of chaos?At one point I read that in the brochure, looked at the new guy and tried to transcribe it to him. But I think all that came out was a muttering sound. He read the Korean part and got the gist of it.
One piece he did like was the following:
I liked this following one because of its use of a rotating light which emitted this really fantastic mechanical sound.
Hmm well I think I talked enough about art for a while. I would recommend getting out to see this exhibit of Indian art. For the simple reason that it is a great collection of contemporary Indian art which is hard to find in one place. Also there were some good conversational pieces, as well.