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00707012
2012.11
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KOREAN

A Memorable Autumn Day in San Francisco/KF Korean Culture Day Opens New Possibilities

On Saturday, September 23 (Sunday), just a week ahead of before the Chuseok holidays in Korea, more than 2,500 visitors were granted free admission to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco bustled with some 2,500 guests attending for a five-hour cultural experience program celebrating the “Korea Foundation Korean Culture Day.” People of various ethnicities had an enjoyable and cultural backgrounds had a joyful time experiencing and learning about exploring the past and the present of Korea in several areas of the museum in a series of activities. The following are my impressions of the event’s activities.

Korea Yesterday and Today

Fusion traditional music band wHOOL gives a performance. Marking its second year, the KF Korean Culture Day, jointly organized by the Korea Foundation and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, was particularly meaningful for the host museum as it helped upgrade a similar culture day event that the museum’s education department had staged for each Asian country over the past four years. In contrast, last year’s While the museum’s Korean Culture Day had faced limitations in budget and planning, the 2011 KF Korean Culture Day was celebrated with a more relatively extensive program, that was co-organized by with the Korea Foundation, and held in conjunction with the special exhibition “Poetry in Clay: Korean Buncheong Ceramics from Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art.”

Aside from a selection of traditional buncheong masterpieces, the exhibition also featured contemporary Korean pottery artists Lee Kang-hyo and Shin Mee-kyoung demonstrating their artistry and conducting a dialogue with audience ― Lee producing his modern variations of buncheong ware, and Shin sculpting her soap works inspired by traditional pottery motifs. Kang Eun-il and Haegeum Plus, an ensemble specializing in traditional Korean music in a fusion style, gave an impressive performance amid dazzling lights at Samsung Hall. Kim Byung-jong, a painter and professor at Seoul National University, presented a lecture on Korean art. An exhibition of paintings by local Korean school pupils further added to the jubilant atmosphere.

Korean Culture as Living Tradition

The Looking back, the two KF Korean Culture Day events, held in the midst of autumn in San Francisco this beautiful city, were ideal opportunities to provide experience in the past and the present culture of Korea. And personally Personally, this event has given me a kind of model as to how I should present traditional Korean culture, as a curator who seeks to introduce and exhibit Korean arts outside of Korea, I consider these two events tremendously helpful because they offered meaningful clues as to how I should present traditional Korean art for overseas audiences.

Thanks to its globalized K-pop culture and advanced technology, today, Korea is becoming well-recognized increasingly well known throughout the international community. However, the global community seriously lacks in overall understanding of Korea’s traditional Korean culture and history is far too limited. Therefore, art museums that feature traditional Korean arts house traditional Korean artifacts should play the role of bigger rules in closing the gap between the country’s growing global recognition and a lack the paucity of awareness among foreigners of Korea’s its traditional culture and history.

Visitors engage in a hands-on activity to make button broaches decorated with Hangeul characters./Visitors watch a new K-pop music video at the museum’s education room.

To do this In order to play such roles, gallery spaces need to be more dynamic while with exhibitions and other programs should be new and ever-changing continuously renewed to generate greater vitality. They should thus be able to aesthetically show the present Korea of today, as it is now today, while also making known its deeply rooted traditions equally highlighting its historical and cultural roots as well. Relics of the past are inherently static. But if exhibitions and events, which other activities analyze and interpret culture of the past, are presented from a the perspective of the present, audiences visitors would be able to see continuity between the past and the present of Korea. In this sense, the dynamic energetic events of the “Korea Foundation “KF Korean Culture Day” provided the visitors with an a significant opportunity to look into the traditional Korean culture of Korea from with their present eyes of today.

Museums need to explore innovative ways to study and exhibit Korean art, which should be followed by a continuous pursuit of evolution. In this vein, daily cultural events of at art galleries and museums should be more closely integrated, coordinated in terms of overall direction. In the autumn of 2013, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco will present a special exhibition on the theme of the royal banquets and ceremonies of the Joseon Dynasty. Next year’s Hence the KF Korean Culture Day for the coming year, which again will be held at also slated for the height of autumn, is expected to be far different. I thus look forward to the third “Korea Foundation “KF Korean Culture Day” being filled with fresh activities and satisfying events, in conjunction with a special exhibition on traditional Korean art which will brim over with fresh ideas and vibrant energy.

Visitors engage in a hands-on activity to make button broaches decorated with Hangeul characters./Lacquer artisan Jeong Myeong-chae, Intangible Cultural Property No. 14 of Seoul, demonstrates mother-of-pearl inlaying techniques.

Kim Hyeon-jeong
Korean Art curator Curator
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

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