brilliant 30: Soonyoung Park
A Curatorial Focus on Familiar Contemporaneity
Curator Soonyoung Park: Prompting Collective Engagement Through Curatorial Practice In Contemporary Art
Curator Soonyoung Park majored in painting, gaining related expertise in aesthetics and theory. Park is also equipped with hands-on experience of various aspects of the art sector. He does not approach exhibitions as a mere function of his curatorial practice. Rather, he explores the organic inner workings of an exhibition by connecting with the artist. This, in turn, encourages natural communication with the audience. In the process of curating exhibitions, Park chooses to maximize emotional connections with the artists by respecting their strong and individual qualities rather than depending on logic. For Park, curatorial practice is much like a collaborative art project. Through extensive research on the spatial context and visual presentation of exhibitions, Park wishes to transform the unfamiliar and convoluted narratives of contemporary art into a form of public art for the enjoyment of a larger audience.
Park’s curatorial work focuses on the idea of ‘contemporaneity’ among emerging artists. Soonyoung Park and Hanseung Ryu (curators at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art) co-authored Tok Tok! Conversations with Art with the aim of introducing Korean artists to art market. The book offers perspectives on talented young Korean artists in the context of the Korean art scene, and provides insight into the newest trends in Korean contemporary art. The contents are intended to act as proponents for the intuitive understanding of Korean contemporary art by drawing parallels with readers’ individual life experience. Park is currently managing a critic and artist pairing program in an effort to foster a more solid and reciprocal network within the Korean art industry.
Q. Could you briefly introduce yourself?
A. My name is Soonyoung Park. My curatorial practice has been mostly in Korean contemporary art with a focus on emerging young artists. I worked as a curator at The Buk Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) until February 2015; there, I operated the SeMA NANJI Residency Open Studio programs for emerging young artists located in Sangam-dong, Seoul, Korea.
Q. Is there a particular message you wish to convey to your audience with the exhibition Follow Me?
A. Follow Me is an exhibition hosted by The Buk Seoul Museum of Art. The show featured twenty-one artists who participated in the 8th NANJI Open Studio. There were various factors we took into consideration in the making of the show. For example, the selection of the final artworks for exhibit was based on a collective consensus. Another component was to consider the method of presentation. Contemporary art can appear convoluted and difficult to understand, so we try to present these artworks in a more pleasant and visitor-friendly manner. We try to make the exhibition texts accessible and engaging. I believe this spirit corresponds to The Buk Seoul Museum of Art’s vision for communication with the public. Residents in the Gangbuk District in Seoul have had relatively little chance to enjoy contemporary art. By being introduced to emerging Korean artists and the overall trend of their work, I hope the citizens of Gangbuk District will grow more familiar with contemporary art.
Artists are able to create their own worlds and invest ordinary objects with meaning and uniqueness. This is their approach to developing individual world views and their lens for observing society. -Soonyoung Park-
Q. Do you have a particular world view for contemporary artists and society at large?
A. Artists are able to create their own worlds and invest ordinary objects with meaning and uniqueness. This is their approach to developing individual world views and their lens for observing society. These elements are delivered visually through contemporary art as a form of social suggestion to individuals in society at large.
Q. Is there a way for contemporary art to approach the public in a more audience-friendly manner?
A. Contemporary art may appear new and unfamiliar to some. In another words, its approach is distinctly different from art of the past. I think elements of unfamiliarity in contemporary art can elicit curiosity and potentially be an element of pleasure for the public. However, it’s a different story when I am asked to give directions for the artists for such an exhibit. With exhibition texts and essays referencing art criticism and theory, there is room to convey contemporary art to the audience in a visitor-friendly way. It is important for the curator to think freely, outside the box, and help visitors to view art exhibitions like a form of entertainment. Curators must discover elements of fun in the method of visual display through continuous study of contemporary art and Korean audiences.
Q. What are your inspirations?
A. The thought processes of young artists and their perspectives influence my creative practice. I work in close proximity to the artists in residence at the studio. These frequent interactions are marked by authenticity. It is relatively easy for them to open up to each other with honesty. I consider their stories as key inspirational elements in my curatorial practice.
Q. In your curatorial practice, what are some elements that make your art brilliant?
A. I consider the NANJI Residency Open Studio as brilliant element in my curatorial practice. The very fact that I can be in close proximity to young artists provides an environment of great merit. In sharing ideas and communicating with one another, the need to develop support platforms for artists and continuous study about how to sustain these programs becomes clear. I consider my role in running the residency program as one of the most important stages in my curatorial career.
Liquid Times-White Pond the Moon. 2014.03.20 – 05.11. Seoul Museum of Art. Installation view
Liquid Times- Star Pattern Shirt. 2014.03.20 – 05.11. Seoul Museum of Art. Installation view
SeMA NANJI Residency Open Studio: Korean-Chinese Artist Exchange Exhibition-Roots of Relations. 2014.11.23 – 12.15. Songzhuang Art Center. Installation view
Residency, Now. 2013.05.02 – 06.06. Songwon Art Center. Installation view
SeMA NANJI Residency Open Studio: Artist Exchange Exhibition-Historical Parade; Images from Elsewhere. 2012.09.07 – 09.30. Nam Seoul Art Center. Installation view
Soonyoung Park acquired his BFA and MFA from Hongik University; his dissertation was entitled on “Perspective on Painting Based on Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Ontology of the Flesh.” Park has worked in private galleries such as Sun Gallery, Rho Gallery, Noam Gallery and Total Museum. He worked as a curator for the NANJI Residency Open Studio programs at Buk Seoul Museum of Art. Park has curated numerous exhibitions such as <Liquid Times> (Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea, 2014), <Roots of Relations> (Songzhuang Art Center, Beijing, China, 2013), <RESIDENCY, NOW> (Songwon Art Center, Beijing, China, 2013), <Historical Parade; Images from Elsewhere> Art, Seoul, Korea, 2012), <After the Pictorial Turn> (Doosan Gallery, Seoul, Korea, 2008), <Paintings> (Gana Art Space, Seoul, Korea, 2010). In addition, Park has curated public art projects with Total Museum. Recently, he published Tok Tok! Conversations with Art with Hanseung Ryu, curator at the National Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art.