Artists are often seen as free spirits, traveling to the far corners of the earth in search of inspiration. In celebration of this spirit of wanderlust and the diverse socio-cultural works it produces, the Seoul Museum of Art proudly announces “Universal Studios, Seoul,” an exhibition featuring the works of foreign artists living in Korea. The exhibition provides an opportunity for viewers to see Korea through the eyes of foreigners as well as get a glimpse of how Koreans view foreigners.
The exhibit features the work of thirteen foreign artists. Originally from Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Spain, Canada, Czech Republic, India, Singapore, and Australia, these artists came to Korea for a variety of reasons—for work, marriage, study abroad, or just pure adventure—and have lived in Korea for as short as a year to as long as 20 years, working on their art. One of these artists featured is Emil Goh, whose sudden death shocked and saddened people across the world in 2009.
The title of the exhibition, sure to bring to mind the film-themed park in Hollywood, references the “studios” of foreign artists living in Korea as places where the “universal” and global phenomena of modern people who lead nomadic lives transcending borders are recreated. The title of the exhibition also symbolizes the cultural perceptions that naturally develop when confronted with a foreign culture—such as, artists’ romantic biases or critical perspectives of Korea, or Koreans’ expectations of foreigner and their art.
Artists examine something familiar in an unfamiliar way; something that is the norm in a different way. In the exhibit as well, the artists shine a new light on many things that are the norm in Korea. While some of the pieces in the exhibition focus on more universal themes, maintaining the unique style of artists that they had before moving to Korea, others explore Korean history and culture, the division of the peninsula, Korean politics, the urban scenery, and daily life in Korea. Ingo Baumgarten, Klega, Simon Morley, and Alfred 23 Harth will be showcasing works from both before and after their big move to Korea, allowing viewers to appreciate the changes in each artist’s aesthetic stances, themes, and subjects with the change of their geographical location.
The exhibition booklet includes the thoughts of 12 artists, with the exception of Emil Goh, on five key words: home, language, cultural fantasy, passport, and Seoul. Each artist expresses his or her thoughts through prose, poems, drawings, photographs, and other mediums, allowing visitors to gain further insight into the artists’ thought processes while viewing their artworks. In addition, performances, round table discussions, and artist talks will be held throughout the exhibition period to discuss and learn about the artists’ perspectives and their reaction to Korea and Korean culture as expressed in their art.