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Fortunetelling meets art at Ilmin Museum of Art

Installation view of “Fortune Telling” at the Ilmin Museum of Art in Seoul (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)
Installation view of “Fortune Telling” at the Ilmin Museum of Art in Seoul (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

When uncertainty looms, some resort to fortunetelling or shamanism to uncover clues about their future. The desire to know what fate has in store has escalated during the pandemic times.

The exhibition “Fortune Telling” at the Ilmin Museum of Art in Seoul explores this desire through artworks and interactive performances, offering comfort and fun to people who are exhausted after the prolonged pandemic. A special audio guide recorded by a Korean shaman is offered throughout the first session. 


"From Dust You Came, and to Dust You Shall Return” by Roh Jin-ah (Ilmin Museum of Art)


The interactive sculpture “From Dust You Came, and to Dust You Shall Return” by Roh Jin-ah is on display at the entrance to the first exhibition hall. When visitors approach, a humanlike robot talks to them about death and birth.

Inside the exhibition hall, a series of paintings on animal skins adds a mysterious atmosphere to the exhibition. The series, by Jang Jong-wan, aims to show humans’ selfishness and violence in exploiting animals and nature.

The exhibition encourages audience participation. The second part of the exhibition, “Counseling Tables,” offers creative counseling. 


"Saju – Fortunetelling” by Song Ji-hyung (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

Inside a red tent is artist Song Ji-hyung, who reads fortunes through “saju,” a Korean fortunetelling method that predicts a person’s fate based on the time, date and year of their birth. A participatory performance, “Saju – Fortunetelling,” offers a chance to contemplate on your inner self while Song talks with you and interprets your fate. The performances take place on weekends, and reservations through Naver are required.

Artist Hong Hak-soon reads clients’ minds and helps them uncover their inner selves at the “Instinct Beauty Shop.” After his witty counseling, he draws a personalized character on a tablet computer that reflects the characteristics of the patron. The drawings are sent to the visitors via email. 

Visitors take part in a performance at the Ilmin Museum of Art. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)
Visitors take part in a performance at the Ilmin Museum of Art. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

In the middle of the exhibition hall is a tarot reading section. “I want to know about my romantic relationship. When will I get a boyfriend?” a woman in her 20s asked a fortuneteller before picking a tarot card. The tarot reading section is one of the most popular parts of the exhibition, with people lining up to get a glimpse into their future.

“We wanted to present an interactive exhibition in the pandemic times. We communicate very actively in the online world, and I wondered if we could bring the interactive communication environment to the offline space through a variety of programs,” said Cho Ju-hyun, chief curator of the museum.

“People are showing more interest in their fate as they are unsure about their life these days,” Cho said.

The exhibition runs through July 11. Online reservations are required in advance.

By Park Yuna (yunapark@heraldcorp.com)
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