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  • Sep 25, 2020

Korean Museum Allows Dogs to Bring Their Human Companions

Installation view of

The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) in Seoul launched a preview of its first dog-friendly initiative, “A Museum for All, a Museum for Dogs,” on its Youtube channel today. 

The project comprises three sections—an exhibition, screenings, and performances—and looks at the extent to which dog owners consider their animal companions as part of their families. It will be presented across Gallery 7, Gallery Madang, and Museum Madang—spaces that have all been adapted for canine visitors with the help of veterinarians. 

The exhibition section comprises 20 artworks by 13 artists and collectives. Among these, the installation Beware, I Am Big and Non-dangerous! (2020) by architectural photographer and artist Kim Yongkwan is an outdoor playpen situated in a grass-filled open courtyard at the museum with an array of colored obstacles created with a dog’s red-green colorblindness in mind. Landscape architect Smooth Yoo’s The Forest for All (2020) recreates a natural forest inside the museum, encouraging meditation through shadows and earthy tones, and stimulating playfulness in dogs with hues of yellow and blue. Yeondoo Jung’s sculpture Togo and Balto – A Group Sculpture of a Canine Hero Who Saved Humanity (2020), made out of dog food, references the two sled dogs who delivered immunity serums to Alaskan children in 1925 during a plague, and highlights the paradoxical roles of animals in spreading diseases and in fighting them.

The screening section, titled “Dogs, Snails, and Blue,” features three films aimed at challenging conventional perceptions of the world. Blue (1993) by the late filmmaker Derek Jarman, made at a time when he was partially blind, features a static screen of blue with voiceovers. Anri Sala’s If and Only If (2018) explores the relationship between a garden snail and a violin player who tweaks his performance based on the movement of the gastropod. Meanwhile, the 3D feature Adieu au Langage (Goodbye to Language, 2014) by Jean-Luc Godard explores the world through the eyes of Roxy, Godard’s dog, as he observes the relationship between a man and a woman.

There are also four new live performances planned. For Curious Child (2020), dancer Nam Hwayeon will take Aibo, a dog-shaped companion robot made by Sony, through the museum, questioning our ability to form intimate relationships with machines. In Forest All Around (2020), media art group diana band will utilize multiple IoT devices, which transmit data via Wi-Fi, to present sounds for humans and dogs to listen to together. Artist duo Kim Jungsun and Kim Jaelee, and digital media artist Yangachi will present additional works.

The show is currently closed along with the rest of the museum due to Covid-19 measures. MMCA's reopening has yet to be announced.

Margarita Cheng is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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