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MMCA Seoul marks 10th anniversary with international symposium

Dec. 1, 2023 - 14:54 By Park Yuna

Philosopher Boris Groys speaks on “Curating and Collecting Art in the Museums of the Post-Internet Age" at MMCA Seoul's 10th anniversary international symposium on Friday. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea marked its 10th anniversary with an international symposium under the title, “Potential from the Unknown: Contemporary Art and Institutions” at the Multi-Project Hall of MMCA Seoul on Friday.

The three sections of the symposium -- “After Institutions,” “From the Perspectives of Asia” and “Ecological Exposure” -- brought together some 15 art experts, including curator Karen Archey from Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, art critic and curator David Teh from the National University of Singapore, art historian Alexander Alberro from Columbia University in New York and curator Lucy Steeds from University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Art critic and philosopher Boris Groys joined the symposium by video as the first speaker and shared his thoughts on the altered status of art museum exhibitions in the internet era in a speech titled “Curating and Collecting Art in the Museums of the Post-Internet Age.”

Art theorist Seo Dong-jin discussed the impact of capitalism on contemporary art in his speech, “The Constellation of Art in the Age of Capitalism,” and shed light on filmmaker and writer Hito Steyerl’s essay, “Duty Free Art,” which explores how one can appreciate art in the digital era.

“I hope this symposium ignites discussions about the roles of art institutes,” said MMCA director Kim Sung-hee, a former Hongik University professor who was appointed to lead the museum in September.

Visitors to MMCA Seoul type in a message to decorate the MMCA Wishing Tree on Friday. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

Celebrating the year-end season, the museum also unveiled its annual MMCA Wishing Tree, digitally set up with some 100 discarded smartphones. The messages sent by visitors become ornaments on the tree. One can also put cash donations into a collection box in front of the tree to support art therapy programs for marginalized children. Some 3 million won ($2,297) was collected last year, according to the museum.

MMCA Seoul is currently exhibiting the “MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2023: Jung Yeondoo -- One Hundred Years of Travels,” “Kim Kulim,” “Korea Artist Prize 2023” and “Project Hashtag 2023.”

MMCA Seoul is part of the MMCA system which was begun in 1969 at Gyeongbokgung, a Joseon-era palace located in downtown Seoul.