Back to the Future <An Exploration of Contemporaneity in Korean Contemporary Art>

Back to the Future <An Exploration of Contemporaneity in Korean Contemporary Art>

Jun 16, 2023 - May 26, 2024

30, Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 03062, Rep. of KOREA


Mon,Tue,Thu,Fri,Sun : 10am - 6pm
Wed,Sat : 10am - 9pm
* Temporary Closure : Saturday, May 25, 2024 6pm - Sunday, May 26, 2024 (all day long)

Back to the Future: An Exploration of Contem- poraneity of Korean Contemporary Art is an exhibition organized with the intention of sharing artwork from the collection of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) with the public. Covering artworks acquired by the museum over a five-year period, from 2018 to 2022, the exhi- bition thoroughly examines the characteristics of noteworthy acquisitions from this time. In accordance with MMCA acquisition policies and directions, the artwork acquired each year has shown an even distribution in terms of era, genre, and theme with pieces acquired over the recent five-years being no exception. One of the most important characteristics observed in these particular acquisitions is that a large number of works are from the artists who demonstrate the contemporaneity of Korean contemporary art, based on the transitional historical period of the 1990s, including figures such as Kong Sunghun, Kim Beom, and Bahc Yiso.

While the chronological emphasis may be on the 1990s, the exhibition includes works ranging from the late 1980s to 2010 in its scope of influence; in doing so, it hopes to highlight the time in which many of the featured artists were establishing their artistic identity- between the late 1980s and early 1990s-along with some of their more recent artistic acti- vities. Also presented among the museum's acquisitions are works by artists who grew up amid a climate, in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, that saw the intersection and coexistence of analog and digital. Later emerging in the scene, they have since establi- shed themselves as important presences in the Korean contemporary art world. Furthermore, the exhibition seeks to provide viewers with the opportunity to observe works by artists who, back then, contributed notably to the creation of the context behind the contemporaneity of Korean contemporary art; this is evident in works created by currently practicing artists in the present dayMajor artworks from this period are still being added to the museum's collection, and while it is impossible to show all previously acquired works here, the exhibition, through the selected artists and artworks, offers a chance to reexamine Korean art during a period that, while belonging to the not-too-distant past, still warrants being historicized.

The exhibition shares its title Back to the Future with a Hollywood film released in 1985 (1987 in Korea)The protagonist Marty uses a time machine to travel back 30 years in time from 1985. In his journeys between the past, present, and future, he ends up entangled in a complex situation. Despite its more or less linear prese- ntation, the film's story deals with clashing times and placesThe year of Back to the Future's Korean released in 1987 fell during a period that is often referred to as the starting point for the emergence of "contemporaneity" in Korean contemporary art. Popular culture- especially music, movies, and comics-had an enormous impact on Korean young generation during the late 1980s and 1990s alongside the rapid political, social, and economic transformations occurring in and outside Korea at the timeThe progressive generational shift that unfolded with these historical changes may be viewed as the most pivotal transfor- mation of the period. A major mechanism defining the era is the emergence of a gener- ation that unhesitatingly navigated phenomena and circumstances unmarked by previous practices, that which could not be interpreted according to past logic. By following that same complex path, perhaps we can better under- stand that which is evoked in the present. After all, the "future" seen in Back to the Future is our "today."