The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) will be holding the Korea Artist Prize 2017 exhibition in Galleries 1 and 2 of its Seoul venue. Co-organized with the SBS Culture Foundation, the event will be taking place from Wednesday, September 13, 2017, to Sunday, February 18, 2018.
The Korea Artist Prize was established by MMCA and the SBS Culture Foundation as a way of supporting and promoting artists showing potential, visions, and new alternatives for contemporary Korean art. Marking its sixth edition since it was first held in 2012, it has established itself as one of South Korea’s premier art awards, playing a fully-fledged role in shaping new developments and discourse in contemporary Korean art.
The Korea Artist Prize 2017 exhibition features new works developed through the SBS Cultural Foundation’s creative support to four artists selected in February 2017: Sunny Kim (b. 1969), Kelvin Kyungkun Park (b. 1978), Bek Hyunjin (b. 1972), and Song Sanghee (b. 1970).
Works of painting and installation by Sunny Kim, an artist who uses painting as an approach to present “perfect images” of lost and unstable memories, are featured in Gallery 1, focusing on the theme of “Leap in the Dark.” As an artist, Kim focuses on the psychological territory of internal memory and lost things, summoning them into real-world spaces. In her painting work, a mixture of objects, videos, and sounds forms a kind of stage for a “perfect image.” Bek Hyunjin, an artist who is active as a singer, composer, painter, performance artist, poet, actor, and director, uses his UnemploymentBankrupctDivorceDebtSuicide Rest Stop to present a multipurpose cultural space functioning as refuge, rest area, and meditation space. Viewers both experience the theater and provide its finishing touches as they are drawn naturally into poetry representing the imagined scenarios of a man’s life.
The work of Kelvin Kyungkun Park is displayed in a space with a 14-meter ceiling connecting to Gallery 2. Park works chiefly in the video medium, using it to painstakingly capture Korea’s male-centric culture. His 2017 Korea Artist Prize work takes the theme of “Mirror Organs: Play of Metonymy,” presenting the regimented movements of a group of robots as the light and color are adjusted in response to the moving sculptures. With his work, the artist raises questions about human beings who are collectivized and alienated within systems. This space connects with Gallery 2, where Song Sanghee, an artist who uses multilayered research and collecting efforts to summon “nameless beings” into real- world time and space, compiles relationships of endings and emergence in video, photograph, and drawing form. With the video work Come Back Alive Baby, which draws from the legend of the baby warrior Agijangsu to explore transformation and expansion in death and rebirth, viewers hear unfamiliar greetings as they stand before a blue monochrome wall showing images of tragic explosions.
The four artists’ background can also be examined in the Seoul venue’s digital archive. An archive space featuring interview footage and different materials offers in-depth information to deepen the viewer’s understanding of the artists. The four artists will also join in the talk “Talking about the MMCA Exhibition: Korea Artist Prize 2017,” which takes place on Wednesday, Sept. 27, while the “Talking about the MMCA Exhibition: Meet the Artists” program will take place throughout the exhibition period, offering a chance to hear about the new works’ creation and the artists’ vision. Participation in the programs is only available to those who register in advance through the homepage. More information is available on the MMCA website at www.mmca.go.kr.
After final judging of the artists’ exhibition submissions, the winner of the Korea Artist Prize for 2017 will be announced on Tuesday, Dec. 5. The winner will be named 2017 Artist of the Year and receive an additional KRW 10 million in support. A modern art documentary spotlighting the nominees’ and winner’s artistic visions will also be broadcast on cable channels and the SBS terrestrial network.
The SBS Culture Foundation administers the Artist of the Year overseas fund, proving assistance with overseas projects as a way of supporting the artists who have been part of the event over the years. In 2015, support was provided to artists Moon Kyung-won and
Jeon Jun-ho, whose work appeared at the Venice Biennale’s Korea Pavilion. Overseas project support has also been made available to Koo Donghee for the 2017 Sharjah Biennial, Chang Jia for the Atlantic Project 2017–2018, and Yee Sookyung for the 2017 Venice Biennale main exhibition, along with artists Minouk Lim, Ham Yang Ah, Jo Hae-jun, Gimhongsok, Meekyoung Shin, and Kira Kim.