November 18, 2018 - National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea - What Do Museums Collect?
November 18, 2018

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea

Courtesy National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul.

What Do Museums Collect?
MMCA research project, international symposium
November 30–December 1, 2018
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The international symposium What Do Museums Collect? is the second research project—coming after "What Do Museums Research?"—of "What Museums Do" organized by the MMCA. It is no longer new to see that borders between the different genres of art are torn down, the roles of curators and artists integrated, and exhibitions happening beyond the boundaries of institutionalized museum spaces. The overall project, "What Museums Do" investigates the roles of museums through several key verbs such as "research" and "collect"—topics which are especially seminal at present—when art/artwork-related policies and curatorial directions are in a state of flux. 

Day 1 of the symposium examines the relationship between "the others" and the collection. In fact, we are not familiar with the discourse on "the others" as Korea has been the object rather than the subject throughout the modern history of imperialism and colonialism and, as a result, we were educated under the dominant ideology of nationalism and ethnocentrism. However, the paradigm shift of globalization and the subsequent increase in the number of immigrants in South Korea have called for a broader understanding of "other cultures." Recognizing these changes, the MMCA has hosted exhibitions and programs over the past few years featuring art from the Middle East, South America, and Africa. As an extension of this vision, the symposium explores the ideas of cultural diversity and inclusion in the era of globalization.

Day 2 of the symposium focuses on the subject of the media of contemporary art, formal changes of art, and their relationship with collection, while branching out into several sub-subjects. Contemporary artists experiment with media—mainly in the forms of mixed media art, installation, performance and new media art. The collection of the museum, which demonstrates the vision of the institution, is continuously remediated through museum programs including exhibitions, education and conservation. Therefore, the museum collection encourages reconsideration of the value system, as well as the physical systems of the institution. For example, the issue of conserving media art, discussed among many museums as of late, involves the different methods of restoring artworks, but it is a matter essentially defined by what the museum values and proposes. This symposium provides an opportunity to discuss the changes in contemporary art and the various issues arising from the process of collecting new art forms, through the collecting policies and strategies of major Asian and Western institutions.

Day 1
November 30, 1-6pm

Collecting Others in Contemporary Art Museums: Diversity and Inclusion Beyond Post-colonial Discourses
Tony Bennett (Research Professor in Social and Cultural Theory in the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University)
Lisa Horikawa (Deputy Director at National Gallery Singapore)
Yup Jang (Head of Education & Cultural Programs Department at MMCA)
Shan Lim (Assistant Professor in the Department of Curatorial Studies at Dongduk Women’s University)
Joan Young (Director of Curatorial Affairs at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum)

Day 2
December 1, 10:20am-6pm

Strategies and Remediation of Collecting in Contemporary Art Museums: Rewriting Art-History, Digital Humanities, and Destination of Art Works
Terry Smith (Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Pittsburgh)
Sven Beckstette (Curator at Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof–Museum für Gegenwart–Berlin)
Marcella Lista (Chief Curator in New Media Collection at the Centre Pompidou)
Emily Pugh (Digital Humanities Specialist at Getty Research Institute)
Sunhee Jang (Associate Curator of Research & Publication Team at MMCA)
Inhwan Oh (Associate Professor in the Department of Painting at Seoul National University)
Beryl Graham (Professor in New Media Art at the University of Sunderland)

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea
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