Korea Artist Prize, which first began in 2012, is a representative art award program in Korea co-organized by the MMCA and SBS Foundation. Four visual artists/teams who are capable of using innovative aesthetics to address the most compelling social issues of our time are selected, to whom funding is provided for their artistic productions that are then exhibited, and a final winner is announced.
The winner of Korea Artist Prize 2020, Lee Seulgi, has presented Dong Dong Dari Gori, which is an installation work that was inspired by parts of traditional Korean architecture and folklore. The judging committee noted that Lee’s work is a sophisticated but unique site-specific installation that offers a playful and modern interpretation of tradition. The members of the committee elaborated that the artist has been selected as the final winner because her work offers a delicate approach to the metaphor of forging relationships, especially during the COVID-19 era.
Professor Lee Youngchul at Kaywon University of Art & Design, a member of the judging committee, explained, “Lee’s work has a simple, it displays very unique senses as well as a poetic ambiance.” Chief Curator Lolita Jablonskienė at Lithuanian National Gallery of Arts praised Lee’s work, describing it as “a poetic universe that amalgamates different times, cultures, and ideas.” She added that “the vast space of the gallery initially striking as emptiness converts into openness that embraces the odd diverseness of the installation.”
Professor Patrick Flores at the University of the Philippines stated that, “Lee Seulgi is the most responsive, intuitively redistributing a motif not to put things in place but to render the place as a distinct moment of togetherness that is open, hospitable, and inviting. While it may appear physically empty, the energy of design, object, and sound fill it with both poignancy and play, in relation to the deep wisdom of local culture and a wistful migrant imagination which references the distance brought about by the pandemic.”
Christopher Y. Lew, Nancy and Fred Poses Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art commented that, “By making use of onomatopoeia and riffing off of different meanings of words, the installation maintained a playful air while still being rigorous through its visual restraint and tight selection of works.”
Director Youn Bummo of MMCA notes, "Lee has reinterpreted the concept of ‘the aesthetics of blank’ in a contemporary manner based on traditional Korean aspects like ‘dancheong’ and ‘moonsal,” and also extended gratitude to the artists "for the efforts they exerted to showcase their works of art amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic."
While the final screening for the Korea Artist Prize 2020 is carried out on-site in principle, this year's screening was carried out remotely via on-line from 23 March 10 p.m. to 12 a.m., considering the fact that the members of the judging committee had restrictions in physically traveling to Korea due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The exhibition runs until 4 April (Sun.) at MMCA Seoul.