The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA, Director Youn
Bummo) presents the exhibition SWITCH THINGS UP from Thursday, 10 June 2021 through Sunday, 27
February 2022 at MMCA Gwacheon.
SWITCH THINGS UP posits the featured artists as Homo Ludens, makers who create a coherent language
of objects through skillful techniques and the use of their materials’ inherent properties. The exhibition
highlights works by seven artists and one artist group who handcraft realms of creative play to redefine and
revaluate production in a contemporary context and address the social role of creativity.
The exhibition is derived from Dutch historian and cultural theorist Johan Huizinga’s (1872–1945) designation
of humans as homo ludens. Huizinga declared the need to reestablish our innate ability to play in light of
modern society becoming more and more efficiency-oriented, placing meaning and emphasis on the act and
enjoyment of play. Because human activities can’t all be reduced to labor, Huizinga proposed that we return
to being a “playful humankind” and base our actions around play in order to escape the tragedy of modern
The exhibition features seven artists and one artist group: Seo Jeonghwa, Shin Healim, Lee Kwangho, Lee
Sangmin, Lee Joona, Lee Hunchung, Hyun Kwanghun, and NOL. Using imagination as their spiritual
medium, these artists demonstrate the act of play by transforming and recombining objects. Each work
produced in this process serves as a mediator of playful communication. Relying on their memories and
experiences of working with various materials, the artists each propose new relationships with the world as
they lay out peculiar yet fun rules for engaging with their works. Lee Kwangho, Seo Jeonghwa, and Shin
Healim present new landscapes structured through repetitive processes that use multifarious materials. These
landscapes, as interactive objects, demonstrate a sensory order achieved through repetitive, voluntary actions.
Hyun Kwanghun and Lee Sangmin present objects that are meticulously designed to perform precise and
complex movements while harboring variable elements to pique viewers’ curiosity. Both artists delicately
include mechanical gears to imbue their objects with a kind of organic mobility that enables both separation
and recombination. Lee Hunchung, Lee Joona, and NOL deploy various modes of expression to visualize
deep, dormant personal memories. The evidence of their actions, sensuously revealed in conjunction with their
modes of visual expression, reveals a world of process-oriented production.
The exhibition space is organically arranged to present the works independently and open them up to individual
interpretation, encouraging play and interaction beyond visual appreciation. An additional special section
provide viewers with a tactile experience of the media used, encouraging them to encounter the exhibition’s
material aspects—both those familiar and unfamiliar—hands-on.
In correlation with the exhibition, the MMCA will upload a video to a new educational online platform. This
video will feature participants sharing activity sheets that propose their own methods of play, as well as capture
artists Lee Joona, Shin Healim, and Hyun Kwanghun as they introduce play methods that can be performed
alone, with a partner, or with a group. Detailed information is available at the MMCA website
(www.mmca.go.kr) and the SWITCH THINGS UP website (https://padlet.com/mmcalearning/Bookmarks).
Youn Bummo, director of the MMCA, notes, “A museum is like a charging station for imagination. The works
of the seven artists and one artist group, who have invented playful games using creative media and their own
imaginations, will offer inspiration and a chance for viewers to rest as we continue in the long fight against
□ For general inquiries, please call +82-2188-6000 (MMCA Gwacheon)