• News
  • Feb 09, 2024

Winner Named for Korea Artist Prize 2023

Portrait of BYUNGJUN KWON, winner of the Korea Artist Prize 2023. Courtesy MMCA Seoul.

Korea’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) announced Byungjun Kwon as the winner of the Korea Artist Prize 2023. The award was presented jointly with the SBS Foundation.

Kwon was selected as the winner based on a presentation at MMCA Seoul by a jury comprising Aaron Cezar, founding director of the UK-based Delfina Foundation; Binna Choi, co-curator of Hawai’i Triennial 2025; Nav Haq, associate director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp (M HKA); Yuka Uematsu, chief curator at the National Museum of Art Osaka; and MMCA director Kim Sunghee. Kwon’s performative installations highlight the potential of robotics as “a minority and companion in human society” and present a theatrical experience. 

MMCA director Kim Sunghee praised Kwon for “beautiful work that uses an immersive robot theater approach to raise questions about the limitless expansive potential of human communities and to present different currents amid the relentless forward flow of contemporary civilization.”

Prominent in South Korea’s underground music scene in the early 1990s, Kwon’s career as a singer/songwriter has tapped into realms of theater, fashion, and modern dance. In the late 2000s, he traveled to the Netherlands to study art-science and became a hardware engineer inventing new musical instruments for electronic performing arts. Since the artist’s return to Korea in 2011, he has developed a certain niche in the contemporary art field through his three-dimensional site-specific sound recordings and for developing technologies to innovate in new-media performances.

Since its inception in 2012, the Korea Artist Prize has expanded its program for the first time for the award’s tenth anniversary. Firstly, exhibitions held at MMCA Seoul now include previous major works created by the award nominees and not only newly commissioned works. Secondly, the final jury deliberation process has included the chance to have “an internationally influential” jury engage in open dialogue with the nominee artists, which was done on February 6. And lastly, the “scale of sponsorship” has increased for winning midcareer artists.

The award nominees comprise of interdisciplinary artist Gala Porras-Kim, video artist Sojung Jun, and multidisciplinary artist Kang Seung Lee. The award exhibition continues through March 31 at MMCA Seoul.

Camilla Alvarez-Chow is an editorial assistant at ArtAsiaPacific. 

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