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Exhibition offers glimpse into connections between Australian and Korean arts

2011/11/14 | 226 views |  | Permalink | Source

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Above Picture: (left) Christian Thompson, Gamu Mambu (Blood Song), 2010, single-channel DVD, sound, 2 minutes, Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant families, 2011 (right) Yeesookyung, While Our Tryst Has Been Delayed, 2010, video, 16:25 minutes, sound, director: Yeesookyung, film producer: Kim Joonha, performance: Jung Marie, Courtesy of the artist (Photos courtesy of the National Museum of Contemporary Art)

On November 10, the National Museum of Contemporary Art (NMCA) kicked off a special exhibition entitled "Tell Me Tell Me: Australian and Korean Art 1976-2011", celebrating the Korea-Australia Year of Friendship. Following the exhibition held at the National Art School in Sydney from June 17 to August 24, the exhibition has arrived at the first floor exhibition halls in Gwacheon, this time in a larger scale, offering art that was created between 1976 and 2011 in the two countries by over 40 artists.

The first-time collaboration between NMCA and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney highlights the historical connections between Korean and Australian art, while also surveying the accomplishments of the art of today, influenced and enriched by the artistic legacies of the respective countries.

1976 marks the year when the first two-way cultural exchange of arts and ideas took place, led by renowned video artist Nam June Paik's visit to Australia, which also coincided with the participation of a group of Korean artists at the 1976 Biennale of Sydney.

Tell Me Tell Me brings back some of the artwork presented at the Sydney Biennale and features a portfolio of publicly acclaimed artists from both nations. The exhibition features a number of participating artists from the 1976 Sydney Biennale including Lee Ufan, Lee Kang-so, and Shim Moon-seup alongside the video installations of Nam June Paik and Park Hyun-Ki. Also on view is artwork from younger talents including Yeesookyung, Haegue Yang, and Kim Beom. One can observe the overlapping artistic spirit of the '70s of associating artistic components with quotidian objects still remaining valid in today's contemporary art practices.

Installation views at Tell Me Tell Me: Australian and Korean Art 1976-2011 (photographed by Hwang Dana)

In looking back to 1976 as the starting point, the exhibition rethinks the trajectory Australian art has followed over the past three decades in close link with that of Korean art through a process of comparison and contrast. Interestingly enough, the two sides find a universal similarity despite the geographic and cultural gap.

To this end, a wide selection of Australian art, adding a "layer of cultural complexity", was displayed in the exhibition ranging from paintings by Australian aboriginal artists like Emily Kame Kngwarreye to experimental artwork of the 1970s by John Davis and Stelarc. Among other noticeable works of art showcased on the grounds are crochet animal pieces by Louise Weaver and meticulously executed works by Charlie Sofo who transforms daily objects including watermelon seeds and post-it notes into art.

The exhibition was organized as part of the various cultural programs commemorating the 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations. Under the auspices of both countries' foreign affairs ministries and the Australia-Korea Foundation, curators of the two host museums, Kim In-hye and Glenn Barkle,y approached the exhibition based on mutual understanding and trust as representatives of their respective cultures.

The current exhibition, which offers viewers a look at an unprecedented encounter between Australian and Korean art beyond time and space, runs until February 19, 2012. Admission is 5,000 won for adults and free for students. For more information, please visit the official website at: (Korean and English).

By Hwang Dana Staff Writer

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