MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2022: Choe U-Ram


About the Exhibition

MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2022: Choe U-Ram – Little Ark was an exhibition designed in the form of a performance that reconstructs our current reality, bringing to the forefront a myriad of questions inherent across the artist’s three-decades-long career. Choe took as his starting point two of the most important issues in contemporary life: the climate crisis and the ongoing pandemic. The situation in which humanity's survival is threatened by an unprecedented crisis has provided an opportunity to re-examine and question things that have long been taken for granted. The escalation of anxiety and polarization caused by climate change and socio-political and economic crises clearly reveals the real portrait of an era of disorientation. In response, the artist constructed the exhibition with the “Ark” as the main theme and juxtaposed the contradictory desires that constitute the contemporary era, providing a place for the audience to ponder and raise questions about where we are ultimately destined.

The black colored “Round Table” placed in the center of the Seoul Box gallery is supported by 18 headless figures made from straw, and a round head placed on top of the table rolls around intermittently. The figures partake in a fierce competition to occupy the single head, offering no escape from the perpetual struggle. Hovering above are three “Black Birds”, rotating slowly and watching over the struggle taking place below. Who will get hold of the head? Who will be the loser? Who will be able to escape this strife?

Elsewhere, in one corner of the exhibition space, “Red” repeatedly blooms and withers while emitting fierce red light. If “One”, a large white flower at the entrance of Gallery 5, is a commemorative wreath made by the artist for the pain of his contemporaries who have experienced the recent pandemic, “Red” signifies how we must endeavor to move forward nonetheless, as well as the cycle of life itself. In order to truly navigate one's own voyage, one must constantly question and seek answers in pursuit of invisible fundamental values, rather than following the absolute or the desires of others.

About the Artist

Since the early 1990s, Choe U-Ram (b. 1970) has meticulously designed “anima machines” that produce movement and narrative. Focusing on how human desires are projected onto technological advancement and evolution, the artist has tapped into the realms of social context, philosophy, and religion over the past 30 years, expanding the scope of his perspective to question the meaning of human existence and symbiosis.

Following his first solo exhibition in 1998, Choe became the first Korean artist to hold a solo exhibition at the Mori Art Museum in 2006. He has held numerous solo exhibitions around the globe including Korea, the United States, Turkey and Taiwan. Since 1997 he has participated in various group exhibitions at the 2nd Gwangju Biennale, Seoul Museum of Art, Busan Museum of Art, Kumho Museum of Art, Manchester Art Gallery, Leeum Museum of Art, MMCA, and so on. He has received the POSCO Steel Art Award Grand Prize and Today's Young Artist Award for Fine Arts Sector in 2006, the Kim Se-Choong Sculpture Award for Young Artist in 2009 and was a Signature Art Prize Finalist in 2014.He was selected to participate in the Doosan Residency New York in 2009 and Autodesk Artists in Residence Program in 2014.

About the Program

MMCA Hyundai Motor Series

The MMCA Hyundai Motor Series is a pivotal part of the decade-long partnership between MMCA and Hyundai Motor, which aims to expand the field of Korean contemporary art and its role in the broader global dialogue. Each year, MMCA Seoul presents a major solo exhibition featuring new works by a Korean artist or collective. Accompanied by seminars and publications, this platform offers audiences an immersive encounter with the prevailing currents and vibrancy of Korean art today. The series began in 2014 with a groundbreaking exhibition by Lee Bul, followed by Ahn Kyuchul, Kimsooja, IM Heung-soon, CHOIJEONGHWA, Park Chan-kyong, Haegue Yang, MOON Kyungwon & JEON Joonho, and Choe U-Ram, and culminates in 2023-4 with Jung Yeondoo.

Take a Closer Look

Related Content