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MMCA announces 2019 exhibition calendar

The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art on Wednesday announced its exhibition schedule for 2019.

Park Wi-jin, managing director and acting director of the MMCA, announced the museum’s calendar for this year, as the director post remains vacant.

Twenty-three exhibitions will be held between the network of four art museums, which now includes the recently opened Cheongju branch. Some 10 billion won ($8.9 million) of the total annual budget of 63.2 billion won, a 4 percent increase from last year, has been earmarked for the exhibitions.

Korea’s modern history and arts

A special exhibition tentatively titled “The Square” celebrates the museum’s 50th anniversary and the centennial of the March 1 Independence Movement. The Seoul, Deoksugung and Gwacheon branches will display 500 works by 200 artists who have had an impact on the country’s modern history. Each venue will show works by artists who were active in the designated time period. The exhibition at the Seoul branch will open Sept. 7, while the other venues will begin exhibitions on Oct. 17. 

An installation view of Korean artist Kim Soun-gui’s exhibit (MMCA)
An installation view of Korean artist Kim Soun-gui’s exhibit (MMCA)

The museum will continue to highlight Korea’s modern masters. This year, the MMCA will hold retrospectives of Quac In-sik at the Gwacheon branch in June and Park Seo-bo and Kim Soun-gui at the Seoul branch, starting in May and August, respectively.

“The Rediscovery of Modern Artist 1,” an exhibition featuring Korea’s modern artists who are relatively lesser known, will be held at the MMCA Deoksugung venue starting at the end of May.

Danish artist Asger Jorn’s 1960 painting “Mater Profana (Defiguration)” (MMCA)
Danish artist Asger Jorn’s 1960 painting “Mater Profana (Defiguration)” (MMCA)

Asger Jorn

On March 3, the MMCA will open a large-scale retrospective of world-famous Danish artist Asger Jorn, who was a founding member of the avant-garde movement COBRA and related organization Situationist International. “Alternative Language” will present some 50 works by the Danish artist produced in the 1950s and ’60s. “Three Sided Football” -- a hexagonal field devised by Jorn that has three teams play soccer -- will also be installed at Seoul Box, an open indoor space of the MMCA’s Seoul branch.

“Asia Focus”

The museum will continue its “Asia Focus,” a program designed to offer a venue where Asian artists can initiate site-specific discourse around the Asian region. The program initiated by former director Bartomeu Mari comes as part of the state-run museum’s efforts to mark its presence in the international art scene.

Kicking off this year’s program is “Awakenings: Art in Society in Asia 1960s-1990s,” which opens Jan. 31. Some 170 research-based works shedding new light on geopolitics in the region, including the Asian theater of the Cold War, the Vietnam War and the modernization and democratization movements of different countries, will be presented.

In October, the MMCA will host the 2019 Asian Film and Video Art Forum, inviting some 50 artists and curators from here and abroad. The event, marking its third edition this year, will examine “The Twilight of the Image Consumption Era.”

Installations and outdoor projects

The landscapes of the museum venues will undergo slight changes through the year, bringing new outdoor installations and creating a new rest area.

In November, the museum will install works by Jenny Holzer -- an American conceptual artist best known for her text-based public art projects -- at the outdoor space of the MMCA’s Gwacheon branch, as well as an indoor space at its main branch in Samcheong-dong area, Seoul.

The museum will also turn the rooftop space of its Gwacheon branch into a garden where visitors can relax. Landscape artist Hwang Ji-hae, who won gold medals at the 2011 and 2012 Chelsea Flower Show, will turn the empty green concrete rooftop into a rooftop garden.

In September, the museum will invite five Asian artists to have their works installed at outdoor spaces around the Deoksugung and Seoul branches.

Two exhibitions touring abroad

Korean artist Yun Hyong-keun’s solo exhibition goes to Venice. Yun’s retrospective is set to kick off May 11 at the Fortuny Museum, the Gothic-style museum space located in central Venice.

The MMCA is currently organizing another exhibition that will travel to the Venice Biennale this year. Titled “Korean Artist Pop-up Project: Venice Meeting Point,” the exhibition by 10 up-and-coming artists -- to be selected among the artists shortlisted for the MMCA Korea Artist Prize -- will be held May 7-12 around the Arsenale Navy Officer’s Club in Venice.


The MMCA will make its newly acquired collections available to the public. Three video works by Anton Vidokle will be shown in April at the museum’s main branch in Seoul. Other artworks collected in 2017 and 2018 will be introduced in March at the Gwacheon venue. The latter exhibition will show some 150 artworks by 70 artists, including Hans Haacke, Akram Zataari, Lee Seung-taek and Lee Kang-so. 


After a five-year hiatus, the museum has restarted its Young Korean Artist program, which first started in 1981. The 19th edition of the program introducing up-and-coming local artists will present works by some 10 young artists at the Gwacheon branch, starting June 20.

The exhibition of works by four final candidates for the MMCA Korea Artist Prize 2019 will kick off on Oct. 12.

The MMCA’s Performing Arts program will not be held this year as the museum is discussing future programs with the newly appointed curator, the museum said.

By Shim Woo-hyun (
Korea Herald daum