Monday, 24 December 2012

Contemporary Art in Seoul Grand Park

One recent Saturday afternoon I had a few spare hours to kill and decided I'd visit the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Gwacheon City, just south of Seoul. I always enjoy modern art galleries (I can't count the amount of times I've visited the Tate Modern in London), and I was curious to see how Korean contemporary art would compare to what I'd seen in the west.
The museum actually lies in a big, mountainous retreat called Seoul Grand Park, which also has a zoo, a theme park, a sledge slope, a cinema and numerous other attractions. It took me about an hour to circle the park, and another one or two hours to explore the museum, all while the sunset slowly turned the mountains orange.

I arrived at Seoul Grand Park metro station. It was less than thirty minutes from downtown Seoul and yet it felt like I was completely removed from the city, since I was entirely surrounded by mountains. It reminded me of one of the reasons I like Seoul so much: for all the pollution, noise and hustle-bustle, in this city you are never far from natural landscapes like these.
The park is quite popular for tourists, and there were lots of food stalls and restaurants around despite it being off-peak season.
The view over a partially frozen lake.

Tucked among some woodland was Seoul Land, a magical theme park I may visit in the warmer months.
The beige, fortress-like building perched on the mountainside was my destination: the National Museum of Contemporary Art.

The entrance to Seoul Land.
In order to reach the museum I had to climb the sculpture park surrounding it.

This robotic being was moving its mouth and chanting monk-like hymns that echoed around the mountains.
This being said nothing.
Entering the museum.

Puzzle 2-01 by Park June-Bum
Dadaikseon ("The More, the Better"), a pagoda made entirely of TV monitors, produced by Nam June-Paik in 1988 in celebration of the Seoul Summer Olympic Games.

This exhibition was called Dream-Walking in the Magical Reality.

The River of Tears by Kim In-Soon.
This was my favourite piece in the museum: The History of Modern Korea by Shin Hak-Chul.
From the top of the museum I could see a sledge slope... well as cable cars riding up into the mountains.
Another view of the TV-Pagoda.
The sun was setting over the mountains as I exited the museum.
The robot man was still chanting.

On the way out of the park I passed a zoo...
...with a monkey enclosure.
Cable cars drifting over the half-frozen lake.

A 3D cinema.
When I'd decided to visit the National Museum of Contemporary Art, I was excited because I always enjoy wandering around art galleries, especially modern ones. But I'd had no idea the museum's surroundings were also just as enchanting and colourful as the art inside. All in all, a great way to spend an afternoon, and I look forward to seeing Seoul Grand Park in the warmer months of the year.

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