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MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2023: Jung Yeondoo – One Hundred Years of Travels

  • 2023-09-06 ~ 2024-02-25
  • Seoul Gallery 5, Seoul Box

Exhibition Overview

MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2023:  Jung Yeondoo – One Hundred Years of Travels

MMCA Hyundai Motor Series is an annual program instituted in 2014 as an opportunity to broaden the horizons of Korean contemporary art and enhance the international status of major Korean artists. For its 10th year in 2023, the selected artist is Jung Yeondoo. Jung has engaged the attention of both domestic and international art communities with his photographs, videos, and installations that are staged and performance-based. Adopting historical incidents and the stories of ordinary people as his subject matter, his works have raised questions about the paradoxical relationship between memories and representation, reality and imagery, and expansive narratives and individuals’. Particularly from 2014 onward, Jung has implemented a method of reconstructing grand narratives of war, disaster, migration, the state, and ideology by means of personal narratives, mythology, and folktales. Through the language of poetry, music, and theater, he paid attention to gaps and multilayered voices that are omitted when documentary narratives are being shaped.


The narrative that Jung focuses on in MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2023: Jung Yeondoo–One Hundred Years of Travels is the Korean diaspora to Mexico in the early 20th century. The “one hundred years of travels” in the title refers to the migration over a century ago by Koreans who left the port of Jemulpo in Incheon for an ocean journey lasting over 40 days before arriving in Mérida, the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán. The artist’s interest in this migration history from 100 years ago originated from the “mythic” travels of the prickly pear cactus. Taking the migration tale of how prickly pear seeds from Mexico crossed the Pacific Ocean to set down roots on Jeju Island in Korea, Jung carried the idea of a hundred-year journey of plants and people connecting Korea and Mexico. Here, a connection is drawn between the “transplantation” of the prickly pear cactus and the diaspora of Koreans uprooted to a different time and place. And, it becomes a channel opening up a third story beyond the existing migration narrative associated with imperialism, colonialism, labor, and history.


This exhibition, featuring a total of 5 video, installation, and sound works, including four new works which are exhibited for the first time, approaches the theme of ‘relocation and foreignness’ as a realm of possibility that connects seemingly unrelated beings transcending time and space. Furthermore, the exhibition invites the viewer to think about the relationship between difference and familiarity, the imagined experiences of temporal and spatial dislocation, the cultural and historical generation gaps associated with migration, and the individuals who are “translated” across boundaries.


Between 2022 and 2023, Jung visited Mexico three times and interviewed the descendants of Korean immigrants, in effort to get as close as possible to the immigrants’ experiences and their time frame. While the artist's performative research approach, with its focus on building rapport with others, serves as a relational channel for uncovering the microhistory within the Korean migration narratives to Mexico, the mixed media works, which are composed with text, performance, video, sound, and stage installation, operates as a visual mechanism for drawing to the surface the different hidden ironies, contradictions, and the hybridity contexts that lie beneath the fixed narrative of “diaspora history.” MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2023: Jung Yeondoo–One Hundred Years of Travels is an opportunity to expand our connections with the unfamiliar as it leads the viewers to the narrative of Korean migrations to Mexico as an active zone of cultural production.

  • Period
    2023-09-06 ~ 2024-02-25
  • Organized by/Supported by
    MMCA and Hyundai Motor Company
  • Venue
    Seoul Gallery 5, Seoul Box
  • Admission
    2,000won
  • Artist
    Jung Yeondoo
  • Numbers of artworks
    5

Related Materials

Audio Guide

#501. Exhibition Welcome and Introduction Welcome to MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2023: Jung Yeondoo – One Hundred Years of Travels! MMCA Hyundai Motor Series is an annual program organized by MMCA and sponsored by Hyundai Motor Company. It was introduced in 2014 as an effort to broaden the horizons of Korean contemporary art and enhance the international stature of major Korean artists. This year marks the tenth series to date, and the selected artist for 2023 is Jung Yeondoo. The title of this exhibition, “One Hundred Years of Travels,” is a reference to the migration of Koreans to Mexico in 1905. At that time, over a thousand Koreans left the port of Jemulpo in Incheon and sailed for 40 days before reaching Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. From there, they split across 25 different plantations, living lives of drudgery as they farmed henequen in what amounted to indentured servitude. Most of those who immigrated to Mexico at the time did not return to Korea after their four-year contract ended. As an artist, Jung Yeondoo has focused on the stories of individual people like fragments within the grand narratives. He adopted this diaspora history of marginalized and forgotten Koreans in Mexico as the central theme for this exhibition. But his focus is not on exploring the history of hardships suffered by Koreans or on dredging up the particulars of their difficult lives. Instead, he attempts a multilayered exploration of today’s contexts, and the meaning that movements, diasporas, and foreignness hold in a 21st-century environment where international migration has become a universal phenomenon. He approaches the topic of “migration” as a realm of possibility that connects different beings across spatial boundaries. As part of this, he encourages us to imagine the foreign spatial and temporal experiences that arise as different cultures clash, and to contemplate the people and things that travel and translate across borders. The exhibition includes five works of art that blend installations with videos, music, performances, and more. It is an experience designed to encourage viewers to relate to the unknown through the artist’s characteristic hybrid artistic style. So let’s begin now!
Exhibition Welcome and Introduction

501.Exhibition Welcome and Introduction