Friday, July 17, 2009

“A Flicker of ‘Your Bright Future’”

Seemingly, I was just another visitor to the Los Angles County Museum of Art this past Tuesday. Just happening to take a tour of the newest exhibition at the Broad Contemporary Art Museum—“Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea.”

As a former intern at the Craft and Folk Art Museum here in Los Angeles and at the Met, it has been a long time since I have taken or given a tour at a museum. So, my current blog for Artillery made for an illuminating experience.

Walking through the Wilshire Blvd. entrance, I noticed a large, orange sign splashed across the top—all in Korean. Later, our tour guide told us the sign played on past Korean propaganda. In English, the sign says “Welcome.”

And how fitting for these emerging Korean contemporary artists. “Your Bright Future” is the first major museum exhibition to solely feature contemporary art from Korea. In the show, the artists play with the idea of miscommunication, but all in good humor.

My tour held a large group of visitors, ranging from giggling pre-teen girls to young European couples, plaid-clad hipster boys to a Korean mother and her son. With this motley crew, we traversed “Your Bright Future,“ examining a house fusion, alien-bright lights, video installations, misleading household items, stuffed animal suits, and apparently unopened art. We were attentive to our guide and careful not to touch the art nor use flash photography.

Just as interesting as what our lecturer had to say was the art of people-watching. Their physical reactions, the ensuing discussion with their fellow museum-goers, their judgment of what was really “art.”

When we stepped into the white room of Bahc Yiso’s electrical lamp-powered work, “Your Bright Future,” I surveyed those around me. Initially, they listened intently to our tour guide. But, as the unnatural light of the room continued to assail our eyes, I saw people slowly began to look down at themselves in this unusual light. Bringing their hands to their face and comparing with each other, they examined the effect of the eerie glow in the room—pale, pink palms were now purple. They seemed fascinated and engrossed.

Yet, as we left to go into the next room, one of the pre-teens confirmed, “This isn’t art.” So, it seemed like the art was lost in translation amidst this otherwise informative and enlightening tour.

Outside of BCAM, Choi Jeong-Hwa’s “HappyHappy” swayed. Long strands of brightly colored plastic goods—salad spinners, baskets, bowls, plates, cups, and balls—hung like garlands from IKEA festivities.

Children and adults alike ran through the leis of plastic. I heard excited chatter and saw flashes of light as friends took pictures together. Little kids giggled, pushing the art into each other. An altogether very different intake of art.

With little information on the art they played within, this light, bright, interactive piece drew the museum-goers in. And, that seems to be art in itself.

“Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea” is at LACMA until September 20 (http://www.lacma.org/art/ExhibFuture.aspx).

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