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M M C A



I went to the new MMCA branch in Seoul a couple weekends back.  It is incredible. I do recommend going early, you may want to spend the whole day to fully enjoy the different exhibits. The museum closes at 6 and they won't sell you tickets an hour before the exhibit closes (so around 5ish).  As with all things worthwhile in Korea, you will have to queue up.
The MMCA is in Samcheong, an area around Anguk station, a popular tourist destination for its close proximity to Gyeongbuk Palace and contemporary art galleries.  The neighborhood is a blend of traditional wood hanok style houses with blue tile roofs nestled modestly next to modern ultra minimal sleek concrete/steel buildings.  This area is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Seoul, often overshadowed by Hongdae and Itaewon. The shopping is also great, there are boutiques that range from from artisinal handmade crafts (including incredible leather shoes and bags) and the everyday fanfare bought wholesale from Dongdaemun.

I think old people are adorable, so I was especially charmed by this piece.
There is a gallery in one of the wings of the museum that chronicles the construction of the museum for those who are curious.  The museum opened on Nov. 11 of this year.  It was made after people expressed a desire for a national contemporary art museum in Seoul as the other branch is in Gwacheon (two hours away).
The line for the Aleph Project seen from outside the museum.  (Go early to avoid this.  If you get caught in this line because your lazy hungover ass couldn't wake up in time don't despair, it is totally worth the wait)
The first thing we saw was Do Ho Suh's "Home Within Home Within Home Within Home Within Home". The western style home contained within it a traditional hanok home, a replica of the artist's childhood house from Korea and his first home in the United States.  The translucent lavender/blue organza lends the huge large scale home an airy and delicate quality.  It is expression of the hyphenated identity many first/second generation Korean-Americans straddle as we struggle to identify where home is after living as transplants.





Next was one of my favorites "GROOVIN' TO THE BEAT OF THE BIG LIE" a video installation. On screen were ordinary neighborhoods from Seoul, the usual neon jumble of tall buildings with flashy LED lights inviting its pedestrians to the usual gamut of kimbap shops and store fronts.  This served as the backdrop to large scale texts of Jun's stream of consciousness.  Jun fantasizes about becoming the CEO of a ramen company.  Jun's daydream seemed like the ordinary runaway thoughts we harbor, whimiscal delusions, the imaginary playback conversations people have in the shower, the kind in which our usual muteness is supplanted with the most stinging and witty comebacks.  I loved how this piece captured these rather vain and delusional revenge fantasies we all have but never say aloud.



A selfie.

Gaze upon one of the most artistic bathroom waiting spaces I've ever seen
An undulating silver moon/cyborg caterpillar
Then we saw some other really interesting pieces, one was called the "Moving Garden" in which guests were encouraged to take flowers from the garden under the condition they would compliment a total stranger somewhere outside the museum space.  Another was an all black room which strobe lights suspended in neat rows on the ceiling that made a crackling sound and that responded to the visitor's movement.  It almost felt like being in an electric storm that dropped light instead of rain.  There was also a wing dedicated to contemporary Korean artists, the most interesting of which were these maps of imaginary cities at war with each other which looked like part city blueprint, part OCD etch-a-sketch.
Sequin Buddha keeps it 100
No Korean art museum is complete without some nam june paik, "The Moon is the Original Television"
But the most visually striking was the Aleph Project.  It looked like a combination of Planet Earth's deepsea underwater creatures that undulated and responded to human presence.  It looked like a mad scientist's laboratory with its beakers and jars full of blue liquids.  It looked like skeletal birds and bats out of Tim Burton's imagination.  It was sooooooooo coool!!  The installation from what I gathered from my awful Korean reading skills is a collaboration between physicists, artists, engineers, and other professionals to recreate a sort of network.  I loosely interpreted this network as a visual representation or mapping out of the brain's network of synapses and neurons.  I absolutely loved this.  I had to wait for a while to but it is really worth it because the docents only let in a certain number of people so that each visitor can really enjoy this impressive piece.




















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