2019.09.05 Etc

Architecture and Heritage -Unearthing Future

김혜림 (소통홍보팀) -02-3701-9675

Attached File [MMCA Press Release]Architecture and Heritage -Unearthing Future.pdf  

The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) (Director Youn Bummo) presents Architecture and Heritage: Unearthing Future from September 5, 2019 to April 5, 2020, bringing together Korean cultural heritage and contemporary architecture.

This exhibition continues the legacy of the 2012 and 2017 Deoksugung Outdoor Project, acclaimed for presenting contemporary art in the context of the old palace, and is the first edition after the last year’s agreement with Deoksugung Palace Management Office (Director Kim Dong-Young) of The Royal Palaces and Tombs Center of the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) to hold regular exhibits. The exhibition introduces five works by five architect groups active in Asia: Space Popular, CL3, Bureau Spectacular, OBBA, and Obra Architects.


On the occasion of the centennial of Emperor Gojong’s passing and the March First Independence Movement, the exhibition poses a new interpretation of the Korean Empire’s dream for future city in the beginning of modernism, from the perspectives of contemporary architects. The architects based in and around Asia, the region that shared the turbulent times of open ports and modernization, conceptualized and staged their installations against Korea’s living cultural heritage from the modern era.


Framed by the doorway of Gwangmyeongmun Gate inside Deoksugung Palace is Gate of Bright Lights by Space Popular (Lara Lesmes, Fredrik Hellberg), a design company founded in Thailand and now active across the globe. Inspired by the name of the gate, which translates to “gate of bright lights,” the architects have installed a digital screen that emanates bright lights to invite the audience into an ever-changing virtual space. The architects fostered their interest in the patterns of dancheong through a workshop with a dancheong restoration expert during their seven-month preparation for the exhibition.


In the courtyard of Hamnyeongjeon Hall, which used to house Emperor Gojong’s bedchamber, is Furniture for an Emperor in Transition by CL3 (William Lim), an architectural design studio based in Hong Kong. Lim designed six furniture forms with combined inspirations from the imperial palanquins and furniture, and the contours of the 20th century Western experimental furniture such as Charlotte Perriand’s lounge chair. Sitting down on the furniture, visitors can envision the life of the imperial family during the Korean Empire when the East and the West came vis-à-vis.


OBBA (Lee Sojung, Kwak Sangjoon), the winner of the 2018 Young Artist Award (architecture category) with the Minister’s commendation from the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism of Korea, presents Daehan Yeonhyang in front of Junghwajeon Hall, the main hall of the palace. In the past, versatile apparatuses such as screens and sun shades were used temporarily to recreate the front yard space for yeonhyang (court banquets). Inspired by such traditional structures, the work interacts with ever-changing wind via dichroic films to simultaneously scatter light and cast ornate shadows resembling a dance. Through this work, the architects propose flexibility in thinking, value, and space required today.


In the Garden near Seokjojeon is Future Archeologist by Bureau Spectacular led by Jimenez Lai, a Taiwanese Canadian architect. Lai represented Taiwan at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale. He imagines a vertical view of the relationship between the ground surface and us in a few centuries, akin to the earth’s strata forming from dirt accumulated over time. The platforms afloat in the air connected by stairs take the visitors to a point in the future, where they can look at the year 2019 beneath their feet as a distant past.


The final stop of the exhibition is Perpetual Spring, a pavilion measuring 120 square meters, built by Obra Architects (Jennifer Lee and Pablo Castro), a Seoul City Government’s Public Architect, in MMCA Seoul Museum Madang, the central yard of the museum. The pavilion maintains spring weather for the duration of the exhibit through fall and winter. The work aspires to perpetuate spring climate, the condition propitious to progressive movements for free and just society; spring has become a poetic expression in human history as referred to in Prague Spring and Arab Spring. The architects also remind us of the global issue of climate change and its social impact.


A series of talks by the curator and architects are planned throughout the exhibition period. On September 27, in celebration of MMCA’s 50th anniversary, MMCA x Marche@, a marketplace with stalls by farmers, chefs and craft artists, will be held in and around Perpetual Spring.


Youn Bummo, director of MMCA, “anticipate[s] as much success of the exhibition as of the past Deoksugung Outdoor Projects, which drew 350,000 visitors in 2012 and 900,000 in 2017. Such original architectural intervention in the site of Korea’s living heritage by the renowned contemporary architects will provide a new aesthetic experience to both Korean and global audiences.”