By Jocelyn Moore
Northwest Asian Weekly
Walking into the Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) Asian Art Museum from now through March, you find yourself immersed in the paradox of modern Korean society.
The “Paradox of Place: Contemporary Korean Art” at the museum showcases new media art in diverse forms from six prominent Korean artists. The common theme of the exhibition surrounds the artists’ personal experience as they face the odds of political, social, historical, and cultural phenomena in their society.
“Korean artists have been at the forefront of contemporary video art for years,” says Xiaojin Wu, SAM’s curator of Japanese and Korean Art. “This show includes incredible examples of video while expanding to display the wide range of new media work these artists are engaging in.”
For those who are still learning about different forms of art, Wu said that new media at this exhibition include photography, mixed-media installation, and sculptures created with non-traditional methods. There is also a piece made with a 3D printer, she said.
Strolling through the galleries, you will see people pause in front of installations and ponder on the stories behind them.
“It was also really meaningful to hear directly from them (the artists) about their work,” said Wu who met the artists while putting up the exhibition.
“This group of artists each reveal something personal—but together, they also capture an expression of contemporary Korean life and of the global world we live in now.”
Valerie Nagle who visited the museum, said, “I wanted to see the exhibition and it’s free Saturday.”
She was particularly drawn to Lim Minouk’s “The Possibility of the Half” and would definitely recommend the exhibition to her friends.
Through “The Possibility of the Half”, Lim reimagined the site of a Korean television studio where viewers can see the highlights of sports recaps, weather reports, as well as dramatic, black-and-white scenery of grieving people who sobbed at the funerals of Kim Jong Il of North Korea and former president Park Jung-Hee of South Korea.
“It’s fascinating and it grows on you,” Nagle said. “I have to come back to see it a couple times. I keep seeing parts that I haven’t seen.”
Wu said that installing a large-scale contemporary work like “The Possibility of the Half” was a fun challenge.
“I love the juxtapositions created in such a historic building,” she said.
Another must-see of the exhibition is Lee Yongbaek’s “Angel-Soldier”. At first glance, you will see a sea of flowers. However, if you look closely, you will notice gunmen in disguise, moving slowly from one side to another.
Combined with the sound effect in the background, the piece is just enough to put viewers on a slight edge while keeping them musing.
“I like the theme of the flowers and the uniform of the military,” said Carol Witte, who was visiting from Minneapolis. “I think it’s an interesting concept of mixing beauty and violence together and spinning their opposite sides.” (end)
“Paradox of Place: Contemporary Korean Art” is on exhibit at the museum, 1400 E. Prospect St., through March 13, 2016. For more information, visit seattleartmuseum.org/visit/asian-art-museum.
Jocelyn Moore can be reached at email@example.com.