Love the art scene in Seoul? I’m with you. I like to prepare, research, gear up and eat well right before heading to a new exhibit at a museum or gallery hopping in this crazy cool city.
So when I headed out to see what was new at the MMCA in January, and I expected to be wowed. Just like the time I went before.
the day began
Being excitable, and more than a little hungry, I decided the first stop needed to be food. Luckily as I walked down Yulgok-ro, a wonderfully pushy ajumma summoned me into her mandu restaurant where I promptly ordered this beauty :
Honestly, I didn’t have much choice. She was very persuasive. Next, I cut through the alleys to get to the MMCA from the back, where I met this beautiful view.
I admit, sometimes at modern art museums, you can be thoroughly underwhelmed or even walk away uncomfortable and confused.
The first exhibit was a hipster spectacular about food called Activating the City: Urban Gastronomy. They had some information on farm to table and had a station to try food. But, there wasn’t much to it and there was not a lot of information in English.
Next, was a set of exhibits by Korean artists under the Korea Artist Prize 2016. The award is described as the most prestigious art award in Korea. So I was certainly excited to see what was deemed best in Korea. Most of it was worth the excitement. But, some….well, you’ll see.
The first exhibit was by artist Kim Eull, seemed like a “found art” installation. And I mean a lot of “found art” pieces. Most of which were framed and arranged in a giant pattern of Saturn. It’s called Galaxy. And it was amazing.
It was so large, in fact, I did not know what I was looking at until I looked at the picture on my camera and recognized the pattern.
But as wonderful as the planet was, the artist went a step too far and also created an artist’s studio mini house with window views to witness Galaxy. It mimicked his thinking and creating space. …and it was weird in that “I’m an artist!” kind of way.
What is with modern artists and creepy, naked, dismembered doll parts ?
Just…what the hell is this?
This was a very interesting piece. It’s by Back Seung Woo and it’s called Betweenless. Each giant portrait was a blurred face. It was messed up in a good “I’m an artist” kind of way.
I really loved the next one. It’s by what I assume is an artist collective called, Mixrice. This room was full of art and photographs and stories about ancient trees around Korea that are in danger of being bulldozed or rehomed to make way for…probably Paris Baguettes. It had an excellent message of protecting nature and to stop tearing sh*t down. Listen up, Korea.
The next main exhibit was more craft than art called Craft Narrative: The Place, Prospect, Perspective. Not that craft pieces cannot be beautiful or inspire awe. However, do they belong in a modern art museum? I’m not sure. There were very cool kitchenware and gorgeous vases. There was a very relaxing video installation of a craftswoman Park MiOk weaving traditional mosi, a beautiful Korean fabric.
But then there was this hot mess.
I have no idea what happening here.
Gorgeous windows. Can I get these at home?
After quite a bit of disappointing art, I consoled myself with a cup of coffee in a quiet shop. I scrolled through my pictures and decided on rejecting half of them.
So, the exhibits at the MMCA in January were underwhelming for me. Contemporary art is difficult to pigeonhole and categorize. It’s a vast and varied type of art and it won’t always make you feel good things.
What do you do? Give it some time and head back for a new exhibit! I’m looking forward to my next trip there this spring.
Look at what I saw last time PLUS other galleries in the area!
Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday : 10:00 am ~ 6:00 pm
Wednesday, Saturday : 10:00 am ~ 9:00 pm (18:00~21:00 : free)
Cost: 4,000 won
There are a few ways to get there. Check the map to figure out your best route!