Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fusion of art and dance

Performers move on “Floor of the Forest" (2008) by Trisha Brown at “MOVE: Art and Dance since 1960s” at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province. / Courtesy of NMOCA

Two very different yet interesting exhibitions are going on at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea (NMOCA) in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province. The museum has come up with an exhibition reviewing the work and life of a veteran Korean artist and the other exploring performance art. Though the idea of the two exhibits seems poles apart, they have one thing in common — they display artists’ challenging spirit and reflection on society.


“MOVE: Art and Dance since 1960s,” held at the Circular Gallery and Gallery 1, is beyond the ordinary museum experience, where viewers just appreciate artworks from a distance. Instead, it invites spectators to become part of the exhibit and it is completed with their participation.

It was originally curated by the Hayward Gallery in London in 2010 and traveled to Haus der Kunst in Munich and Dusseldorf’s Kunstsammlung in 2011. The Korean exhibition is reinterpreted in a cultural context and several artists created new works.

Stephanie Rosenthal, chief curator of the Hayward Gallery, said the exhibition is about choreography, which doesn’t necessarily relate to dance, but more of designing movement. She also emphasized that viewers’ participation is pivotal in “MOVE.” “Audiences communicate with artists through engagement and participation. Visitors are participants and it is their responsibility as a part of it,” Rosenthal said.

Participating in “MOVE” might need some courage at first due to the solemn concept of an art museum, but this exhibit is completed when a visitor steps in and moves as directed. Pay attention to the people wandering around the gallery with casual attire in leggings or dance shoes as well, because they are performers who infuse life into the artworks.

Upon entering each gallery, visitors can tear off a piece of paper that works as a guide and makeshift mat. Visitors should also feel free to take La Ribot’s chairs around the gallery and sit on them.

Pablo Bronstein’s “Magnificent Triumphal Arch in Korean Colours” resembles a pagoda found at Buddhist temples in colors of “dancheong,” or traditional multi-colored paintwork. Eight times a day, a performer dances around the arch, as if courting the artwork.

Trisha Brown’s “Floor of the Forest” (1970/2012) brings daily routine movements into dance. Performers move on a clothesline-like installation and wear or take the clothes off the line. Visitors can also walk on “The Stream,” which is composed of pots and pans of various sizes installed outdoors.

William Forsythe’s “The Fact of Matter” (2009) might look like gymnastics equipment, but the artist focused on how the body burdens people hanging on rings. Joao Penalva’s “Road Solos,” which choreographs traffic controller’s hand signals, is a work created for the Korean exhibition.

At the center of the Circular Gallery, visitors can watch video clips from its archive of visual arts material regarding dance and movement.

The exhibition continues at Gallery 1 where more “movement” awaits. Visitors can play with hula hoops while watching Christian Jankowski’s “Roof Top Routine” (2008) or follow the directions of MadeIn Company’s cultural fitness exercise.

Lygia Clark’s “Penetration, ovulation, germination, expulsion” (1968) allows the spectator to discover their senses in a different way. The participant goes through darkened wooden boxes and a transparent vinyl sphere, sensing and experiencing the concept of penetration, ovulation, germination and expulsion.

A museum attendant narrating a description is part of Tino Sehgal’s “This is propaganda,” while Janine Antonie’s “Yours Truly” (2010) is a secret piece of work that only selected people can participate in “pas de deux” designed by Antonie. And don’t forget to check your pockets or bag before leaving the exhibition as you may find something unexpected.

“MOVE” is NMOCA’s effort to think outside the box about the museum’s future through encounters with other genres of art other than just painting.

Admission is 4,000 won. Some performances are held every day or happen all the time, while some are only available on weekends. The MOVE Weekend program “On the Spot,” featuring diverse performances based on Korean context, will be held every Friday and Saturday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Ha Chong-hyun Retrospective

At the Main Hall and Gallery 2, a retrospective of Ha Chong-hyun, a key person in Korean contemporary art history, is being held.

The exhibit displays Ha’s works in chronological order, beginning from his earliest pieces in Art Informel Movement. Ha became interested in texture in the 1960s and works such as “Untitled B” (1965) reveal his attempt to explore various materials when examined closely. In his “Naissance” series drawn in the late ’60s, the artist experiments in geometric abstraction by weaving paper strips.

He was a member of the Korean Avant-Garde Association in the early ’70s and continued to experiment with new materials. He put wire entanglements on canvas and even put barbed wire around his artwork to protest against the political and social situation then.

His signature “Conjunction” series began in 1974, as a result of seeking a novel, unique way of expression. He pushed paint out from the back of hemp canvases, creating unmatched textures. The paint oozing out from behind is clearly visible in his early works. As time went by, he added more strokes.

In 2008, Ha put three of his “Conjunction” series on a large canvas and wrapped them with barbed-wire at “Conjunction 08-101” and embarked on “Post Conjunction” works.

“It was to remind me not to reduplicate the long-running ‘Conjunction’ series anymore,” Ha said during a press conference. “I didn’t use many colors in my art throughout my life and I thought I was missing color. That’s why I decided to plunge into the world of color.”

His recent works still have the signature paint coming from the back of the canvas but are filled with vibrant colors, raising hopes for the 77-year-old artist’s future.

Admission is 2,000 won or 5,000 won for a combined ticket with “MOVE.” Ha will give a talk on July 18 at 2 p.m. Both exhibits run through Aug. 12. For more information, visit or call (02) 2188-6114.

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