Collecting for All is an exhibition of works by everyone. The museum collection is a public asset that’s protected by the museum and conserved in the museum storage most of the time, but it should actually be something that’s accessed and enjoyed by the public more often. This exhibition has been organized to provide a friendly everyday environment through which to take closer steps to the museum collection that reflects our very own lives.
Amongst 5,173 works in the SeMA collection, 86 works that cast a realistic reflection on our society and environment were selected, along with 45 works of the artists from the collection that deepen the meaning of the project, making up a total of 131 works presented in the exhibition.
This exhibition is presented in 6 galleries at Seoul Museum of Art, Seosomun main building. ‘Collective Lab’ presents works by collectives of two or more members, while ‘Reference Room’ consists of collections of works by female artists who explore the diverse art or histories of all times and places. A collection of various books selected from works that convey nature, is available on the view in ‘Green Library’, while new-media collections in set schedule can be experienced in the comfortable space of the ‘Media Theater’. Finally, the ‘Performance Stage’ presents a performance piece, and a fantastic work flickering with lights is featured in the ‘Crystal Gallery’. The visitors are invited to visit the spaces in the order of their preference.
Quite a large amount of time is needed to view all six spaces. It might not be easy for the busy audience today to view the entire exhibition, but we invite you to take some time out to explore the different aspects of life. This exhibition is completed by the audience when they feel understood and connected to each other through the works, and when they start to feel that they want their lives to head to a better direction. Therefore, SeMA aspires for Collecting for All to create "A Future Made by Many, A Museum Connecting Everyone."
The ‘Collective Lab’ presents works by 8 groups of artist collectives of two or more members, including Kim Ki Ra X Hyungkyu Kim, Rohwajeong, Listen to the city, Moojin Brothers, Moon Kyungwon∙Jeon Joonho, Mioon, Mixrice, and Part-time Suite. The members of these collectives might have changed or stayed the same, but as in general, they work by sharing opinions and discussions, gathering and organizing thoughts together. Reflecting life in togetherness, their works talk about technology, development, migration, labor, isolation and disasters that endlessly arise in the massive flow of capitalism and globalization. These works shed a serious outlook on the social problems that can happen to any one of us who happens to be born into this world of adventure and experimentation, yet overlook them as if they’re some news from a remote place.
‘Reference Room’ presents works by female artists, which make up 24% of the collection at SeMA. These female artists (Suki Seokyeong Kang, Koh San Keum, Kim Jipyeong, Shin Mee-kyoung, Haegue Yang, Yeesookyung, Jiin You(JU JU U), Siren eun young Jung, Seungean Cha and Choi Hae ri) traverse across the east and west, past and present, making references to music, literature, art, drama and history in their works. These references from different places and times are summoned by female artists and interpreted in a different context, as a way of deepening the understanding of the world in their works. These artists continuously ask rhetorical questions to themselves as to the social background of the references, and their significance to us in this era. Their works involve the process of engaging in a conversation with these references, looking at them, listening to their stories, retracing their meaning, and expressing the artists’ own thoughts. As a result, their works create a world where everyone is connected. In this space, works that creatively intervene in things that already exist or cast a twisted view on the world, tell the viewer about their own stories, engaging with them in conversations that are at times soft while at other times chatty.
In the ‘Green Library’, Eco Bridge―A Rotary with 9 Piers from the collection is expanded to include various growing plants. Here, artists who work with nature and everyday life (Oksun Kim, Kim Ju Hyun, Hyuk Jun Yi, and Eun Chun) add their own sense of warm sunlight, lush vegetation, and fascinating narratives. Nature is an essential existence to human life. It’s a vast site where not only visible beings like humans, animals and plants exist, but also invisible beings form relationships and coexist. A collection of books on the subject of nature, safety measures, race and the female body, etc, is provided in collaboration with the Neutinamu Library in Yongin-si in order to offer education on ways of living with nature. The viewers are invited to sit at a warm wooden table where plants grow, and think about the world in which we live, and the future that we must create.
The ‘Media Theater’ presents a total of 28 new media works, selected from the 224 new media works in the SeMA collection, consisting of 12 single-channel videos, 8 two-channel videos, and 8 animation works. Screened in 3 different theaters in differently set times, the works cast an insightful and witty reflections on various social problems that we face, including labor, virus, division, capitalism, war, dwelling, and violence, etc. While comfortable couches are provided for a relaxing viewing experience, the content of the works are quite unsettling. In addition, the works may be short in terms of duration, they’re never light in terms of the subject matter and meaning. The viewers are invited to slowly view the works in the space to meditate on problems which we often overlook but are inevitably part of human life.
A video work by Sora Kim from the SeMA collection is shown on the ‘Performance Stage’. A documentation of the performance on ‘walking’, the work not only explores the gesture of ‘walking’ as an ordinary process to reach a certain purpose, but also expresses the gesture and language of the act of walking itself. As we walk, following a performer on the screen in the large space, we reflect on things that are so ordinary that they go unnoticed and are blindly passed by.
Finally, Yun Ai Young’s installation work made of diverse colors, shapes and forms, switches and light bulbs is shown in ‘Crystal Gallery’. When the switch is turned on, the light slowly vanishes and appears over the surface of the black background, like stars in the night sky. Through a playful interaction with the flickering lights, the viewers are invited to engage in simple delights and even imagine a world they’ve never visited.
*Seoul Museum of Art is temporarily closed in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of visitors. Collecting for All will be available for viewing when the museum reopens.