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The sight of music, the sound of art

Arko Art Center, KT&G Sangsang Madang feature collaborated works of musicians and artists

A woman decked in white hanbok takes a seat on the stage. After a few seconds of silence, the resonance of her clear voice pierces through the long stage filled with nothing but white light.

Every Friday and Saturday, vocalist Jung Marie softly sings “jeongga,” songs based on Korean traditional poems, and “gagok,” Korean traditional songs which were added to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in November, at Arko Art Center in Hyehwa-dong, central Seoul. Roman Catholic Hymns like “Stabat Mater” can also be heard.

When there are no performances, a screen displays former performance scenes which visitors can watch with earphones on. Or if you prefer to experience the feeling of isolation on the long and silent stage while staring at a muted screen, leave the earphones out ― another way of enjoying the show.

Jung’s spiritual stage is the first half of the music and art collaborated exhibition “Jung Marie’s Jeongga, Yeesookyung’s Devotion” running at the art center.

The other half consists of installation artist Yee Soo-kyung’s 160 drawings and paintings which form a band around the second floor of the museum. The place has a somewhat similar solemn and eerie vibe just like Jung’s stage. 
Yee Soo-kyung’s drawing inspired by singer Jung Marie’s songs  (Arko Art Center)
Yee Soo-kyung’s drawing inspired by singer Jung Marie’s songs  (Arko Art Center)

Doubtlessly, Yee’s artworks were inspired by Jung’s songs. Yee encountered the music exactly a year ago and decided to “devote” herself to visualize it. Yee repeatedly listened to the songs while she worked and often drew using both hands simultaneously to create symmetrical images.

Viewers can share the artists’ mood by looking at drawings and listening to the songs that continuously stream out through speakers installed between them.

KT&G Sangsang Madang at Seogyo-dong, central Seoul, offers a more cheerful and lively version of such a music-and-art-mixed-show with “Label Market.” 
A couple look around the exhibition “Label Market” at KT&G Sangsang Madang in central Seoul.(KT&G Sangsang Madang)
A couple look around the exhibition “Label Market” at KT&G Sangsang Madang in central Seoul.(KT&G Sangsang Madang)

It started as a small-scale exhibition introducing about 50 albums from Korean underground bands in 2007 but expanded in size over the years. It opened with 500 albums in 2008, 740 in 2009 and is showcasing over 1,000 this year.

At the exhibition, visitors can freely rummage through the albums, listen and purchase them.

What is also notable about the 4th “Label Market” is that collaborated artworks of artists and the musicians are on display. The brilliant art displayed between and behind the albums not only helps visitors get to know the bands better but also adds more color to the ambience.

Typographer Kim Ki-jo, for example, expressed the image of Broccoli You Too, an acclaimed indie band, like a cobalt-blue water drop. Pop artist Jeon Yong-seok made a whimsical cartoon-like painting titled “Gate Flowers” for the band of the same name, which features musicians who seem to be excitedly improvising a song together.

The bands participating in the exhibition will throw small-size acoustic concerts Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

“Jung Marie’s Jeongga, Yeesookyung’s Devotion” runs through Jan. 23 at Hyehwa-dong, central Seoul. Tickets are 2,000 won for just the exhibition and 10,000 won for the performance and the exhibition. For more information, call (02) 760-4606 or visit www.arkoartcenter.or.kr. 
A scene from Jung Marie’s performance for the exhibition “Jung Marie’s Jeongga, Yeesookyung’s Devotion”  (Arko Art Center)
A scene from Jung Marie’s performance for the exhibition “Jung Marie’s Jeongga, Yeesookyung’s Devotion”  (Arko Art Center)

The 4th “Label Market” runs through Feb. 20 at KT&G Sangsang Madang Gallery II at Seogyo-dong, central Seoul. Admission is free. For more information, call (02) 330-6225 or visit www.sangsangmadang.com.

By Park Min-young  (claire@heraldcorp.com)
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