The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA, Director Youn Bummo) unveils MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2021: MOON Kyungwon & JEON Joonho - NEWS FROM NOWHERE, FREEDOM VILLAGE, from Friday, 3 September 2021 through Sunday, 20 February, 2022, at MMCA Seoul.
Through their collaboration dating back to 2009, MOON Kyungwon & JEON Joonho have been exploring the relationship between the human society and art by throwing the fundamental question of "what does art do" in the rapidly changing world and crisis that humanity faces including contradictions of capitalism, tragedies in our history and climate change. Their representative project, NEWS FROM NOWHERE, has been inspired by the eponymous utopian novel authored in the late 19th century by William Morris (1834-1869), who famously led the Arts and Crafts movement in the UK. The project premiered at Kassel Documenta 13 in 2012, and has also won the Korea Artist Prize 2012 hedld uring the same year at MMCA as well as the Noon Award at the 9th Gwangju Biennale. For the past decade or so, the project has been unfolded globally in various forms – video works, installations, archives, multi-disciplinary research and workshops and publications.
Through MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2021, MOON & JEON aim to present a new chapter of NEWS FROM NOWHERE: FREEDOM VILLAGE, which is fully commissioned by MMCA Korea and Hyundai Motor Company. The project is based on the only village that lies on the South Korean side of the heavily fortified Demiliterized Zone (DMZ) - Daeseong-dong, also known as "Freedom Village." The village, which is not even marked on the car navigation system, has spent the past 7 decades without being a part of either South or North Korea since the signing of the Armistice Agreement in 1953 after the Korean War. The two artists focus on the deformed nature of the village that has resulted from the confrontation and tension of human history, moving beyond the perspective of viewing it as a distinctive location resulting from the unique political situation of the Korean Peninsula. At the same time, they have expanded the project to also reflect the reality that the world faces today as we grapple with the global pandemic which is leading to increased isolation in many ways. The project shows that the Freedom Village, which has been isolated for a long time as one that exists but does not at the same time due to the ideological conflict of the past, reflects the present and future of our society while continuously changing and repeating within our daily lives.
The exhibition consists of video, installation, archive, photograph, large-scale painting as well as a mobile platform to carry out related programs. The video, played via two screens that are installed facing each other, depicts the story of two characters who have been isolated from the rest of the world for a long period of time. The story of these two people who ponder upon ways to question and prove their existence within the two isolated worlds that have been made respectively from the collision of the contradictions of institutions and ideas, is unfolded s their lives connect with each other going beyond the spatiotemporal boundary.
The video, in particular, is organically connected with the exhibition space, switching its lightings on and off and adjusting the sound. This enables audiences to feel as if they are a part of the video, expanding the scope of how they experience conventional video works which were only limited to screens. The narrative depicted through the video is then led to the reality via a large-scale landscape painting (H 4.25 X W 2.92m).
MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2021: MOON Kyungwon & JEON Joonho - NEWS FROM NOWHERE, FREEDOM VILLAGE aims to expand the scope of visitors' imagination by enabling them to travel across the boundaries of reality and fiction through images and videos made based on actual archives and fictions on the history of the village.
A large platform will be set up at the Seoul Box during the exhibition period, where a 'Mobile Agora' will invite experts from every corner of life to discuss issues related to the exhibition. There will be a total of five sessions open as part of the Mobile Agora with project partners, researchers and professionals from various fields - architecture, science, design, humanities during the exhibition period. The series of talks will discover what has caused the crisis that the humanity faces now and explore the alternatives for the future.
In line with the initial goal of MMCA Hyundai Motor Series, which is to support the global promotion of a prominent Korean artist, MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2021: MOON Kyungwon & JEON Joonho - NEWS FROM NOWHERE, FREEDOM VILLAGE will travel to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan on 29 April, 2022.
Director Youn Bummo of MMCA said that the exhibition is "the first large-scale exhibition of MOON Kyungwon & JEON Joonho held in 9 months at MMCA since the Korea Artists Prize 2012," and added that "it will serve as an opportunity for the audiences to witness how the question of the role of art and artists raised by MOON & JEON amid the crisis and contradictions facing the humanity will be unfolded via NEWS FROM NOWHERE: FREEDOM VILLAGE."
Hyundai Motor Series (2014-2024)
The MMCA Hyundai Motor Series, in partnership with Hyundai Motor Company, is a ten-year art project that has been organizing annual exhibitions of esteemed Korean artists since 2014. The project aims to expand the boundaries of Korean contemporary art and provide a platform that connects leading Korean artists with wider audiences globally. Each year, MMCA selects one artist or group with a unique artistic vision to explore his/her creative process to its full potential and provides promotional support of the exhibition both at home and abroad. The commissioned artworks that reflect the artist’s vision and aesthetics allow the audience to witness the currents and dynamism of Korean contemporary art. The MMCA Hyundai Motor Series is noteworthy for being a successful example of partnership between the arts and the corporate sector and its contribution to the advancement of Korean art.