Explanation of Artworks

1) Do Ho Suh
   Hamnyeongjeon project-East Ondol Room, Hamnyeongjeon, Deoksugung, National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea, Commission, 2012 (Performer: Jung Youngdoo)

Hamnyeongjeon was built to be used as King Gojong's bedchamber in 1897 and has been restored after its destruction by fire in 1904. King Gojong stayed mainly at Dong-ondol (the East Room) in Hamnyeongjeon especially after he forcefully abdicated his throne in 1907. He is known to be poisoned to death here in 1919.

Do Ho Suh chose this private and secretive place fraught with King Gojong's 'breaths' as a starting point of his creative imagination. Inspired by the attestations given by court ladies that three boryo (Korean mattresses) were prepared for King Gojong every night, Suh inquires into a chain of questions, that which results in researches, installation works, a performance and video works. Focus is placed on the inner conflicts and anxieties that King Gojong who led a life as a king in the time of national crisis must had suffered from. Also his personal misfortune to have witnessed the early death of his two queens is juxtaposed with the desperate situation of nation. In an attempt to bring back the 'warmth' that might had filled the room during Gojong’s time, Hamnyeongjeon is cleaned and repapered, and the efforts to ascertain historical evidences for the royal everyday life are documented as part of the work. Consequently, only the 'traces' of such endeavors of the artist are left at Hamnyeongjeon. The video works on the basis of his inspiration from Hamnyeongjeon are shown inside the National Museum of Art, Deoksugung.

서도호, 함녕전 프로젝트_퍼즐




2) Ha Jihoon
   Jari, National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea, Commission, 2012 (Sound: Sung Kiwan)

Deokhongjeon is King Gojong's private quarters located right next to Hamnyeongjeon. Originally, it was the place where 'Gyeonghyojeon' is situated, which was a shrine the spirit tablet of Empress Myeongseong was enclosed, but in 1912 after the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1910 it was renovated and renamed as 'Deokhongjeon'. As it was transformed from a sacred space to a royal reception chamber where the king received Japanese rulers, its floor structure was changed to make it more apt for the chair-sitting culture of the West and its interior was lavishly ecorated.
Furniture designer Ha Jihoon puts emphasis on the irony that this aesthetically remarkable space is in fact the product of distortion and deformation. The floor is inundated with floor chairs on whose chrome-coated surfaces are 'mirrored' the adornments of the walls and the ceiling. The combination of the LED lighting of the interior and the natural light coming in from outside intensify and amplify the irregularity of the reflection effect generated on the floor. As the viewer strolls around in this entrancing space, the music piece by Sung Kiwan encompasses the entire space. At interval can be heard the lament of a woman, the rattle of teacups and the slight laughs as well. The distinctive quality of this ' Jari ' (meaning 'place')' is strengthened by the intense energy generated by the collisions between the East and the West and between the past and the present.

하지훈_덕홍전, 자리, 2012, 국립현대미술관 커미션




3) Choi Sunghun+Park Sunmin
   Crystal vs. Decision, National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea, Commission, 2012

At its best time, Deoksugung occupied around three times the area of the present site and was crammed with a great number of palaces, quarters and offices. Originally, there were about 170 palatial buildings in Gyeongungung, but today there remain only 15 of them. The short-lived glory of Gyeongungung tempts artists to raise abstract questions about transiency, temporality or the ultimate principles behind the workings of things.
In a corner of the premise of Deoksugung which had been packed with quarters but now is emptied out, Choi Sunghun and Park Sunmin scatter around and pile up crystal blocks. Every 'crystal(結晶)' in the world requires a long period of quiet and careful process to be 'decided(決定)' as a perfect form at a certain moment. Yet when the very instant moment passes, it is subject to destruction and disappearance so as to move towards yet another order. Under the universal condition which does not tell the eventual outcome, things continue to move. A crystal is both eye-blindingly brilliant and lethargically vain.  

Choi Sunghun+Park Sunmin_Crystal vs. Decision




4) Sung Kiwan(SSAP)
   Junghwajeon Haenggak (Corridor building)
   Audiorama-Novels of Royal Ladies, National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea, Commission, 2012, Sponsored by National Art Council

Constructed in 1902, Junghwajeon, which was used as a meeting chamber at Gyeongungung, was designed to have an imposing impact in order to represent Daehan Empire. Originally, it had three gates including Junghwa Gate and 128 Haenggak (Corridor buildings). Yet most of them have been destroyed and a few quarters have survived on the right side of Junghwamun Gate.
Sung Kiwan, who is a poet, musician, music critic and sound archiving artist, directs his attention to the isolated and peripheral location of this quarter, which might had been a 'behind-the-scene' of the palace. The artist selected some highlights from the royal classic novels of the Joseon dynasty, which were kept at Nakseonjae in Changdeokgung, and has them delivered through the voice of a professional announcer. Those classical phrases of somewhat, in the artist's words, "hilarious style" are projected through the "non-everyday voice tone" of the announcer. Despite their vulgarity and didactic plots, which can also be found in currant television dramas, the subtle and detailed descriptions and metaphoric expressions are of high literature. As one listens to those paragraphs, he or she can peek into the daily lives of the royal and noble families of the Joseon dynasty.




5) Lyu Jaeha
  Time, Museum of Contemporary Art Korea, Commission, 2012

Built in 1902, the originally two-story building of Junghwajeon was used for morning gatherings held in Gyeongungung. Yet it was burnt down by a fire in 1904, which was two years after its completion. The present one-story building was renovated immediately after the fire. It was a symbolic architecture that laid claim to the independence of Daehan Empire.
Lyu Jaeha projects video images on the façade of Junghwajeon, which attests to the honors and disgraces of the empire. A large number of laser lines are intersecting one another over the paving stones at the royal court in front of Junghwajeon. The large-scale media mapping encompassing the ground floor, the stone steps on the second floor and the building of Junghwajeon invites the viewer to the journey of fantastic space and transcendental time. As the dualities such as being and non-being, and light and darkness visit each other, the viewer immerses oneself in a certain meditative state.

류재하_중화전, 시간, 2012, 국립현대미술관 커미션

* Media Projection
  Sep. 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 at 7:00p.m.
  Sep. 29 and 30 at 7:30 p.m.
  Oct. 4, 5, 11, 18, 19 and 20 at 6:30p.m.
  Oct. 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m.
  Nov. 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17 at 6:00p.m.




6) Yeesookyung
  Tear Drop, National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea, Commission, 2012

Seogeodang has a long-standing history as the origin of Gyeongungung. Its history dates back to 1593 when King Seonjo sought temporary residence here during the Imjin War (Japanese Invasion of the Imjin Year). In 1608 King Seonjo died here, and during the reign of Gwanghaegun Queen Inmok was confined here for about five years.
Yeesookyung places her 'dazzling' sculpture of a tear drop in this simple and unrefined place that seems to have become a symbol of the tragic destiny of Deoksugung. As the sculptural condensation of a single teardrop is refracted by its own thousands of LED light bulbs, one cannot obtain a clear view of it. The paradox inherent in this sculptural piece that it is brilliantly lit but is not easily recognizable represents the fates of countless women including Queen Inmok led their lives as human beings here inside the walls of the palace. Here emerges an intangible world that prevents itself from being easily described or comprehended.

이수경_석어당, 눈물, 국립현대미술관 커미션, 2012




7) Traditional Korean Costume Kim Young Seok
  Better Days, National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea, Commission, 2012

King Seonjo lived here in Seogeodang since his return from his refuge during the Imjin War, and Queen Inmok was locked up here during the rule of Gwanghaegun. The original building had been maintained for a long period of time, but it was burnt down by a fire in 1904. The present building was restored after that. Together with Zeukjodang, Seogeodang comprised a precinct until the 1930s while being connected to each other through a corridor. During the reign of King Gojong a kindergarten was built for Princess Deokhye in this area.  

Kim Youngseok who is a hanbok (traditional Korean dress) designer and collector transforms the rooms at Seogeodang into charming and feminine spaces. The rooms are crowded with the furniture items and craftworks, which were used by women in old time, and selected all from Kim's collection. Those objects and a video work shown here seem to seek to reinstate the short happy days of Princess Deokhye while evoking faded memories and nostalgia. Lee Jeonghwa presents her performance in the yard in front of Seogeodang in the midst of flower ornaments. Artist says that there is no definite line that demarcates happiness or unhappiness and that there is neither beginning nor end. In Seogeodang where sorrow and beauty embrace each other, one is invited to reflect upon one's life, which is vulnerably exposed to various emotions including joy, anger, sorrow and delight.

김영석_석어당, Better Days, 2012, 국립현대미술관 커미션    김영석_석어당, Better Days, 2012, 국립현대미술관 커미션

* Performance:
  Oct. 3 and 11 at 4:30p.m.




8) Chung Seoyoung
  Inwardly, Determine Yourself
  A Rest without Notice
  Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Burglar, (Sound: Ryu Hankil, Actress: Kim Jiyoung), National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea, Commission, 2012

It has been known that Jeonggwanheon was designed by Russian architect Afanasij Seredin Sabatin around 1900. Its structure that allows one to enjoy the outside views resembles either a Korean pavilion (Jeongja) or a Western verandah. It is decorated with a wide range of patterns including such emblems of Daehan Empire as the dragon and the plum blossom, and designs of the bat, the apricot and the vase etc. Its use of materials is also hybridistic: It utilizes wood, steel and glass; also, concrete for its pillars; tiles for its floor; green asphalt shingles for its roof.

This space is of multiple layers of memories that traverse different time and origins, and Chung Seoyoung adds another layer of 'contemporaneity' to the space: a polygonal mirror fragment is inserted between the existing items of furniture in the interior of Jeonggwanheon; a figure in shirts with a text replaces those furniture items, which are moved to the inside of the gallery. In its backyard sound artist Ryu Hankil performs using all sorts of noises as musical elements. This performance is accompanied by a short monodrama. The unique location of Jeonggwanheon, which stands at the edge of the palace while neighboring the downtown of Seoul, stimulates one's wild and unpredictable imagination. To borrow the words of the artist, "broken, erased or fragmentally summoned records" are wandering around here.

정서영_정관헌, 마음 속으로 정해라, 2012, 국립현대미술관 커미션    정서영_정관헌, 알리지 않은 휴식    정서영_정관헌, 괴도신사 뤼팽

* Performance A Rest without Notice:
  Sep. 18, 19, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30/ Oct. 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16 and 17 12:00-6:00p.m.

* Performance Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Burglar:
  Oct. 3 and 11 at 5:30p.m.




9) Choi Sunghun + Park Sunmin
  <Daystar2>, Choi Sunghun+Park Sunmin, 2011
  <Daystar4-2>, National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea, Commission, 2012

The grove along the shore of the pond in Deoksugung had been occupied by the government office buildings. Most of the buildings were destroyed in the 1930s due to the construction of a park in Deoksugung carried out by Japanese government. In 1960s the site was even transformed into an ice skating rink. Tall trees have been growing on the small mound that had been naturally formed of the soil from the digging for the pond.
In the middle of this small grove where exuberant trees afford shades, Choi Sunghun and Park Sunmin install their Daystar series. Sun beams come through the chink in the window or trees to meet objects while creating shadows. The movements of the things result in the delicate separation between light and shade. A long glance at this trivial event delivers unexpected moments of wonder and beauty. Right behind the low stone wall, people are jostling against all the hustle and bustle of daily life in the thriving downtown of Seoul.

Choi Sunghun+Park Sunmin_A small vehicle wanders slowly., Daystar 4-1, Daystars in Junghwajeon