2021.07.15 Etc

ARTificial Garden, The Border Between Us

채지연 (홍보고객과) -02-3701-9675

Attached File [MMCA Press Release] ARTificial Garden, The Border Between Us.pdf  

The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA, Director Youn Bummo) presents the exhibition ARTificial Garden, The Border Between Us from Tuesday, 13 July, to Sunday, 21 November 2021, at MMCA Cheongju. 

ARTificial Garden, The Border Between Us questions human-centered views of nature and seeks ways of coexistence as the global COVID-19 pandemic continues. The phrase “art garden” hinted at in the title is inspired by the idea that art galleries, like zoological and botanical gardens, collect objects for the purpose of protection and preservation. “Won,” a Korean word for “garden,” can also mean “circle,” implying the coexistence of humans with the earth, nature, and all life forms. This exhibition explores how art can visualize the huge frame of nature in which humans live in harmony with plants and animals. On display are a total of 87 artworks—three entirely new—by a total of 13 artists: Keum Hyewon, Kim Rayeon, KIM LEE-PARK, Park Jihye, Park Yonghwa, Song Sungjin, Lee Changjin, Jung Jaekyung, Han Seok Hyun, Kim Miru and Jung Chanyoung (whose work is in the MMCA collection), and Lee Soyeun and Choi Xooang (whose work is housed in MMCA Art Bank).

The exhibition is composed of four themes: “#1. The Border Between Us,” “#2. Awkward Coexistence,” “#3. At the Border of City and Nature,” and “#4. To be able to Live Together” By reducing the number of “walls,” which symbolize barriers and exclusivity, the exhibition visualizes the meaning of relationships and boundaries in a space, asserting that the artworks have a mutual influence on each other. 

The first section “#1. The Border Between Us” provides an opportunity to think about the variously conceptualized term “woori” (meaning “we” or “cage” in Korean) through artworks that interpret objects from different perspectives. The visualization of the meaning of fences and boundaries enables viewers to reflect on the relationships between us, both within and without borders. Park Jihye deals with objects whose meanings are changed by humans’ perspective of them through her new work depicting a dove perched on a post. Doves used to be symbolic of peace, but they are now often regarded with aversion and avoidance due to humans’ changing attitudes towards them. This is expressed by the artist with the dove’s self-mocking phrase, “AS YOU KNOW.” KIM LEE-PARK presents “Identification Photo-Petplant,” resembling humans’ passport photos, to highlight the individuality of different plant. Lee Changjin uses electroluminescent wire turned into a large barbed wire structure to symbolize a fence and boundary dividing the exhibition space.

The second section “#2. Awkward Coexistence” looks at the shortened distance between humans and different species of animals, questioning how to enable peaceful coexistence. Keum Hyewon examines the relationships between humans and their pets in the contexts of “the life and death of pets” and “possession and desire.” The taxidermy pets and what they have left behind ask for whom people memorialize their deceased pets. Park Yonghwa visualizes artificial nature based on his extended observation of zoos and the images of caged animals that humans create in their minds. Lee Changjin visualizes the death of common potted plants by aligning the dead plants, removed from their pots, horizontally.

The third section “#3. At the Border of City and Nature” asks the meaning of nature tamed by the urban environment. This opportunity to think about life at the border between nature and artificiality is exemplified by dogs abandoned at redevelopment sites and plants growing on land leveled for the construction of apartments. Jung Jaekyung focuses on the entangled interests of urban redevelopment and the life of abandoned dogs in such circumstances. A story about a community of humans and dogs formed amid destroyed and demolished buildings is shown in a black-and-white video work. Kim Rayeon presents paintings of plants growing with great endurance and tenacity for life from earth dug up for the construction of apartment complexes, asking what is necessary to create a more convenient world and what paradise truly means.

The fourth section “#4 To be able to Live Together” explores what it will take to achieve the coexistence of humans, animals, plants, and nature. Song Sungjin adds ritual meaning into his work by choosing soil as his medium amid the foot-and-mouth disease endemic. The pig-shaped soil sculpture will be returned to its original state as a material that embraces life, with sprouts grown inside, after the exhibition. KIM LEE-PARK installs “Botanical Sanatorium,” providing treatment for sick plants. A plant expert, he utilizes him expertise to demonstrate how plants and humans can live together. As the exhibition is highly influenced by magnolia trees and pigeons, which have lived at the site of MMCA Cheongju since before it was built, Han Seok Hyun analyzes three dead magnolia trees in front of MMCA Cheongju and introduces how these dead trees can be reborn as artwork, and Jung Jaekyung presents new video work about pigeons inhabiting the museum. Viewing civilization and nature, order and chaos, as equal, the video work captures cryptic images of pigeons around the museum with the theme of “chaotic order.” 

Youn Bummo, the director of MMCA, notes, “This is an interesting exhibition that poses the question, through art, as to what effort humans should make to coexist with nature. I hope that this exhibition provides an opportunity for visitors to not only to examine how humans use their power for coexistence, but call for changes in people’s ways of thinking as well.” 

□ For general inquiries, please call +82-43-261-1400 (MMCA Cheongju)