Bowls, trash bins and tires turned into ’French Art Today’
By Kwon Mee-yoo
More than 100 porcelain bowls float in a round, blue pool in the lobby of the National Museum of Contemporary Art (NMOCA) in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province. The bowls move slowly, clanking in the water’s flow. There are white benches installed next to the pool to provide spectators time to sit down and listen to the sounds of daily life. When viewed from the second floor, the 7.5-meter diameter pool looks like an abstract painting.
French artist Celeste Boursier-Mougenot himself visited Korea to install his work “Untitled.” He set up the pool and turned a heater on to warm the water. Composer-turned-artist Boursier-Mougenot stands at the crossroad of experimental music and formative art and creates unique sounds with everyday objects.
Other works on display, from froth gushing out from trash bins to a chandelier made with tires and bike wheels are also removed from the fixed canvas. Some might wonder whether this is art or not, but it is, just like Marcel Duchamp created “Fountain” by signing a urinal.
The NMOCA’s “French Art Today — Marcel Duchamp Prize” explores the latest trend in French modern art, showcasing some 100 works by 16 artists who won and were nominated for Marcel Duchamp Prize, hosted by the Association for the International Diffusion of French Art (ADIAF).
ADIAF was founded by some 300 individual collectors in 1994. Gilles Fuchs, ADIAF president, said the organization focuses on what is happening in the French art scene and finds, supports and promotes artists.
“People may think art collectors are millionaires, but we link the art with our daily life and share it with people around us,” Fuchs said. “The collectors collude with artists and their lives are connected.”
ADIAF established the prize in 2000 and about five artists are nominated for the prize each year. The NMOCA chose 16 artists from the winners and nominees and constructed an exhibition with their representative works.
“Winning the prize or not was not important to us. When we studied the French artists, they all had historical, philosophical eyes on the current situation and problems in common,” Park Mi-hwa, NMOCA curator, said.
To maximize the characteristics of each artist, the exhibition chose a monographic style.
Artist-alchemist Michel Blazy’s “Foam Fountain” consists of rubbish bins, a foam-bath and a compressor unit. He didn’t come to Korea but sent a recipe for his piece. The NMOCA staff members have to create new foam once in a while to maintain the work.
Video artist Laurent Grasso’s “Projection” shows an animated cloud in an alley, while the youngest participant Cyprien Gaillard’s “The Lake Arches” portrays two young men confidently diving into a shallow lake.
Mathieu Mercier grafts industry onto art. Mercier’s “Drum and Bass” reconstructs the composition of Piet Mondrian by arranging daily objects such as plastic binders, flashlights, cups and document trays on shelves.
Claude Leveque’s wheels with light bulbs titled “Whirlwind” reminds one of roller coasters and theme parks.
Pierre Ardouvin casts a different look on memories by blowing bubbles from an upside down house in “The Shelter (The Wind Will Carry Us)” and displaying withered artificial flowers.
“Energeia Akinesis” by Camille Henrot is inspired by the chandelier of Notre Dame in Paris named “Crown of Light.” Henrot brings modern objects such as tires, spheres and steel hooks to re-create the chandelier in his own way.
The exhibition runs through Oct. 16. Tickets cost 5,000 won and a docent tour is available at 3 p.m. on weekdays and 3 and 5 p.m. on weekends
For more information, visit www.moca.go.kr/engN or call (02) 2188-6114.