The latest MMCA Hyundai Motor Series features an eye-opening exhibition by renowned Korean artist – Choe U-Ram.
Art can go further than just about any other medium when it comes to raising difficult questions. It can help us to delve into what it means to be human, what the future might hold, and what our relationship with robots might look like. Together with artist Choe U-Ram, Hyundai is exploring all these questions and more thanks to his innovative and boundary pushing exhibition called Little Ark , which is being hosted at MMCA Seoul.
MMCA Hyundai Motor Series
MMCA Hyundai Motor Series is a ten-year art project that has been organizing annual exhibitions of esteemed Korean artists since 2014, with the aim to expand the boundaries of Korean contemporary art and provide a platform that connects leading Korean artists with a wider global audience. Choe U-Ram is the ninth artist to be selected for the project.
Born in 1970, artist Choe U-Ram is renowned for his “anima-machines.” These kinetic artworks represent narratives that reflect how human desires are projected onto technology. Over the past 30 years, Choe U-Ram has taken inspiration from social context, philosophy, and religion to explore and question the meaning of human existence through his work.
Introducing – Little Ark
Choe U-Ram’s latest exhibition, MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2022: Little Ark is now on view through to February 26, 2023, at MMCA Seoul.
MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2022: Choe U-Ram – Little Ark is an exhibition designed as a form of a performance that reconstructs the reality that we are in now. It reflects on the situation we find ourselves in, whereby humanity’s survival is threatened by an unprecedented crisis and through doing so Choe re-examines and questions things that have long been taken for granted.
With the heightened anxiety and polarization caused by climate change and socio-political, economic crises, Choe explores this current era of disorientation by constructing the exhibition with the ‘Ark’ as the main theme surrounded by society’s contradictory desires, which create a sense of juxtaposition.
Through the exhibition, he explores various questions about the meaning of being human and our coexistence with life-like machines such as robots and looks at the idea of whether a sustainable future is possible for humanity. There is also plenty of space for the audience to ponder and ask questions about where we are headed.
Little Ark and Round Table
The main piece of the exhibition, Little Ark is a symbolic ark made of heavy iron and recycled cardboard boxes that are fitted with cutting-edge technology. Thirty-five pairs of oars stand up like a wall that cuts us off then begins a majestic dance as if spreading its wings.
The accompanying sculptures called Lighthouse, Two Captains, James Webb, Infinite Space, Angel, Anchor and the video work Exit are all arranged to harmonize with the ambient sound that fills the exhibition space. The exhibition invites us to delve into our deepest desires, reflect on the present, and ask questions about our conflicting human desires and the directions we could take in the future should we need to escape the world we live in.
Hovering high above the Seoul Box, three Black Birds look down upon the exhibition space, watching the movements of the Round Table. Round Table is an analogy for the innate human desire for power, the structure of our competitive society, our polarized reality, and the ever-deepening classism in society. This piece is made up of a round table and 18 headless straw figures that stand underneath it. The figures cause the edge of the table to rise and fall and each time it does so it causes a round head to roll around on the tabletop. As each figure tries to claim and inhabit the head, their efforts cause the head to roll further away.
Making art with sustainable materials
For the exhibition, Choe U-Ram actively incorporated reused and sustainable materials into his works. Little Ark and Black Birds used recycled cardboard boxes while his other new pieces One and Red are made of a protective clothing material called Tyvex, which was widely used by medical staffs during the pandemic – signifying how we move forward as part of the cycle of life.
URC-1 and URC-2 are two huge circular sculptures which are made of lights that were taken from cars that were scheduled to be scrapped after testing at Hyundai’s Namyang R&D center: URC-1 , the white star, is made from headlights, while URC-2 , the red star, is made from taillights.