Jung-Ah Woo

  • picks November 01, 2017

    “Urban Ritornello: The Archives on Community”

    Curating a strong thematic exhibition often demands archival research on said theme—and if that theme is the wide-ranging and multilayered concept of “community,” the curator’s research likely extends into cross-disciplinary scholarship on history, sociology, philosophy, ethnography, anthropology, and urban planning, among other subjects.

    Instead of showcasing the final outcome of such investigations, however, “Urban Ritornello: The Archives on Community,” curated by Juhyeon Cho, presents the source materials from the archives of participating artists and scholars across the three-story museum.

  • picks October 20, 2016

    “Connect 1: Still Acts”

    Artsonje Center’s yearlong renovation work has been temporarily suspended while the venue stages “Connect 1: Still Acts”—which presents work by three artists: Lee Bul, Chung Seoyoung, and Kim Sora, all of whom previously had solo exhibitions here. On the third floor is Lee’sMajestic Splendor, 1997/2016, for the first time since its scandalous debut: Ninety-eight pieces of sea bream are ornamented with beads and sequins, individually packed in plastic bags, and attached to the wall in seven rows. When the fish have rotted away, foul air will pervade the gallery—where Lee’s Cyborgs W1–W4, 1998,

  • picks July 27, 2016

    Osang Gwon

    Ten pieces from Osang Gwon’s series “The New Structure,” 2014–, pack the gallery’s basement floor. Finally presented together for the first time, their structures redefine the space to make a dynamic interplay possible between the visitors and the works.

    Gwon’s best-known series, “The Deodorant Type,” 1998–, offers a response to sculptural convention. In order to avoid the heavy materials traditional to his medium, such as stone or steel, the artist has built up an armature of a human figure with a Styrofoam-like material and pasted thousands of detailed photographs on its surface. This blending

  • picks June 21, 2016

    “Artspectrum 2016”

    “Artspectrum” is Seoul’s answer to the Whitney Biennial. Since 2001, it has supported emerging artists and showcased a broad spectrum of Korean contemporary art. This year, ten artists and artist groups are presented. For their contribution Art Spectral, 2016, the Okin Collective (Joungmin Yi, Hwayong Kim, and Shiu Jin) installed a wide wooden floor within the gallery and outfitted the space as a quasi-living room or lounge. They instruct visitors on how to enjoy it: Heat the pillow in the provided microwave, rest on it, read their publication (copies of which are scattered across the installation),

  • picks April 12, 2016

    “Graphic Designs, 2005-2015, Seoul”

    Contrary to its title, “Graphic Designs, 2005–2015, Seoul” contains no graphic design works per se. Curators Hyungjin Kim and Min Choi, who are both graphic designers and independent publishers, believe that the products of graphic design are not meant to be displayed in a museum setting. However, they’ve invited twelve artists and artist collectives, critics, journal editors, architects, photographers, and graphic designers to respond to a museum commission in their own idiosyncratic ways.

    For the exhibition, the curators compiled 101 Indexes, a catalogue of graphic designs dating from 2005 to

  • picks January 14, 2016

    Minouk Lim

    Minouk Lim has installed The Gates of Citizen, 2015, in the middle of Auguste Rodin’s The Gates of Hell, 1926–28, and The Burghers of Calais, 1889, which are parts of the museum’s permanent collection. The artist removed the doors from four shipping containers and recomposed them into an open passage, in which Lim set an audio system that plays popular songs along with the noise from various types of vehicles. Between the artworks that represent the pain and suffering of human beings on the one hand and the heroic sacrifice for the sake of the community on the other, the container gates aptly

  • interviews June 17, 2015

    Lee Ufan

    On April 10, 2015, Space Lee Ufan opened at the Busan Museum of Art in Busan, South Korea. It is the second permanent venue dedicated to the artist (after the Lee Ufan Museum in Naoshima, Japan); for this project, Lee chose the site, conceived the initial design of the building, selected the works to display, supervised the installations, directed the size and location of the wall texts, and even designed the wooden chairs for the café. In sum, the space is a Gesamtkunstwerk, one of the most significant projects of the artist’s career.

    I’VE ALWAYS been suspicious of any proposal to build a museum

  • picks March 23, 2015

    Haegue Yang

    For her first Korean exhibition in five years, Haegue Yang chose a title inspired by George Orwell’s essay “Shooting an Elephant” and Romain Gary’s novel The Roots of Heaven (1958), which both feature elephants as a metaphor for nature’s dignity and its relation to human civilization. Yang’s recent concerns about the tension between them unfold collectively in her latest series, “The Intermediates.”

    On view are three architectural structures, modeled after an ancient Mayan pyramid, Borobudur Temple in Indonesia, and Lala Tulpan (a Russian Islamic mosque), respectively—all handcrafted with straw,

  • picks November 11, 2014

    Kyuchul Ahn

    Kyuchul Ahn took the title of his exhibition “All and but Nothing” from a quote by Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer: “We see all and nothing.” Here, Ahn twists the phrase, referring to the bitter experiences of failure in his own life and the misguided faith that his words and deeds have been comprehensive. As such, images of failure and performances of futility run through the exhibition.

    In the middle of the gallery are unfinished walls, each made up of approximately 4,000 red bricks. During the exhibition’s duration, the artist will extend one end of each wall by adding bricks taken from the

  • picks July 03, 2014

    “Secretly, Greatly”

    “Secretly, Greatly” presents artworks by the three finalists of the reality-TV competition Art Star Korea, which premiered in late March. The show gave fifteen artists the opportunity to compete for substantial rewards: a cash prize of $93,000 and a solo exhibition at a prestigious gallery in Seoul. The show also set no restrictions on the contestant’s age, education, or occupation, which resulted in over four hundred applicants. The final three—Hyeyoung Ku, Jae-hyun Shin, and Byung-seo Yoo—survived the ten episodes, in which they underwent art-school style criticisms by five judges after each

  • picks May 16, 2014

    Yeondoo Jung

    Yeondoo Jung’s “Spectacle in Perspective,” curated by Nayoung Cho, is the artist’s first museum-scale solo exhibition in Korea since his being named Artist of the Year by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in 2007. Along with his early photographs, the exhibition presents one of Jung’s recent experiments with media technology, Virgil’s Path, 2014, and a collaborative performance and installation, Crayon Pop Special, 2014. Though the artist has introduced elements of advanced technology into his show, he maintains his interest in an age-old concern: the dreams and fantasies of

  • Jewyo Rhii

    Another version of Jewyo Rhii’s solo exhibition “Night Studio,” curated by Sunjung Kim, was previously on view at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt under the title “Walls to Talk to.” The exhibition’s tour began in January 2013, but the journey behind the work began back in 2008, when the artist moved into an apartment on a market street in Itaewon, one of Seoul’s hippest commercial districts. Most of the twenty-two objects and fifteen installations on display were produced in this apartment during the nearly three years that she

  • picks October 20, 2013

    Takashi Murakami

    At “Takashi in Superflat Wonderland”—Takashi Murakami’s first retrospective in Asia—the artist’s signature characters and motifs are not merely objects to be looked at but the constitution of a fabulously plastic wonderland. The walls are plastered with grinning flowers, a huge balloon of Mr. DOB dangles from the ceiling, and the curtain of the video room is speckled with jellyfish eyes.

    At the entrance of the main hall, life-size statues of Murakami’s Kaikai and Kiki flank Rodin’s massive sculpture The Gates of Hell, 1880–1917, which is part of the museum’s permanent collection. With their

  • picks October 03, 2013

    Yayoi Kusama

    The retrospective “A Dream I Dreamed” presents 118 of Yayoi Kusama’s installations, sculptures, and paintings, including thirty new works. Filling the immense space of both floors of this museum, the exhibition features seven large installations, including Infinity Mirrored Room, Gleaming Lights of the Souls, 2008, a space where viewers may feel as though they were floating into the center of a celestial galaxy. Opening the door to this small dark room, visitors are dazzled by an array of colorful lights that endlessly reflect off mirrored walls and the water on the floor. Indeed, throughout

  • “Data Curation”

    Back when Nam June Paik devised the video synthesizer—which allowed him to cut, paste, and mix video images—he declared, “As collage techniques replaced oil paint, the cathode ray tube will replace the canvas.” “Data Curation” represented the twenty-first-century update of Paik’s prophecy. Today, coding is replacing collage, and LED displays have already replaced the cathode-ray tube. The exhibition, curated by Jeungmin Noe, featured nineteen artists and art groups, mostly from South Korea and the US, working in diverse disciplines, including architecture, industrial design, fashion,

  • picks August 15, 2013

    “Learning Machine”

    The spirit of Fluxus is alive and well, as evidenced by “Learning Machine” at the Nam June Paik Art Center, which features around seventy works by twenty-one artists and teams, combining selections from the museum’s Fluxus collection with related works by contemporary artists. The exhibition is named after a 1969 diagram of academic disciplines by Fluxus initiator George Maciunas, which is displayed at the entrance. To critique the narrow specializations encouraged by conventional education systems, Maciunas reorganized fields of knowledge from an interdisciplinary perspective, emphasizing visual

  • Gimhongsok

    The Korean artist Gimhongsok garnered a huge amount of attention from the press for his 2008–2009 solo exhibition at the Kukje Gallery in Seoul, and his exposure reached well beyond the arts section. This was largely due to his notorious opening performance, Post-1945, 2008, for which he hired a prostitute to act like an “ordinary” visitor to the gallery, offering a cash prize to anyone who could identify her. His title suggested that the performance was meant as a satirical commentary on the capitalist ethos of postwar Korea, in which all human relations are mediated by monetary exchange.


  • picks May 01, 2013

    Choi Jeong Hwa

    Since his debut in the early 1990s, Choi Jeong Hwa has been a central figure in Korean contemporary art. Yet, “Kabbala” is his first exhibition in a museum. This curatorial omission is somewhat understandable; Choi has never been considered an artist per se. Rather, he’s more often seen engaged in the work of an interior designer, architect, industrial designer, art director, stage designer, and entrepreneur. At one point, Choi self-deprecatingly took on the moniker “AAA,” or “Always Almost Artist,” which today, after this sprawling exhibition, sounds almost as accurate.

    Kabbala, 2013, the

  • picks January 30, 2013

    “Your Invisible Shadow”

    “Your Invisible Shadow” is a group show featuring eight artists who utilize light, sound, and kinetic devices to incorporate the conventional white cube of the exhibition space into their installations. Two works in particular stand out: The first is Shadow You, 2012, a large screen hung in the entrance of the gallery over which architect Jieeun Hwang has projected a video of shadowy moving figures (all artists whom Hwang filmed for this project). Walking around the screen, one finds a desk on top of which Hwang has left notepads and pencils; visitors are encouraged to leave messages for the

  • picks December 15, 2012

    “(Im)Possible Landscape”

    In “(Im)Possible Landscape,” curated by Soyeon Ahn, fourteen artists from different generations and diverse backgrounds use various media to explore the meaning of “landscape.” Traditionally in Korea, landscape genre works (known as sansu, literally “mountain and water”) were meant to provide the literati with a virtual refuge from the hardships of reality, one they could access without having to leave their urban homes. The artists featured in this exhibition demonstrate, however, that a depiction can never provide a genuine escape from reality.

    Using digital photography, Hong-Goo Kang re-created