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Art of conservation science takes center stage in special exhibition

Art/Culture 17:35 June 03, 2020

SEOUL, June 3 (Yonhap) -- Conservation science, the discipline of conserving art, architecture and other cultural works, serves as a tool for restoring art as closely to the creator's intended vision. The discipline combines aspects of chemistry, physics, biology and engineering -- nerdy fields that are hardly considered romantic or associated with timeless beauty by the general public.

Subverting this very notion, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) has opened a special art exhibition themed around the very art of conservation science, titled "Conservator C's Day," from May 26-Oct. 4 at its Cheongju museum, located 137 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

This photo provided by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) on June 3, 2020, shows "Conversation Tool: Brush" by Jung Jung-ho, which is on display at the "Conservator C's Day" exhibition at MMCA Cheongju. (Yonhap)

The exhibition centers around an imaginary art conservator, named "C," with modern artworks themed around the daily science of conservation and metaphysical anxieties that C confronts at work.

The curation brings together some 30 art pieces centered around five keywords -- Damage, Tools, Time, Anxiety and Thought.

The types of works on display are wide in spectrum and medium, ranging from paintings and sculptures to installations. Included is a non-visual sound piece by Ryu Han-kil, which merges different industrial and explosive sounds in a dim and hollow room, highlighting the emotions of a conservator when observing physical damage of an aged work of art.

This photo provided by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) on June 3, 2020, shows the restored version of "Woman in a Cross Striped Dress" by Lee Gap-gyeong from 1937, which is on display at the "Conservator C's Day" exhibition at MMCA Cheongju. (Yonhap)

Kim Jee-soo presents a work titled "Pul Pul Pul," centered around empty bottles attached to a wall, intended to symbolize the smell of the museum's conservation labs and their scientists. Jung Jung-ho brings to the exhibition photography that sheds light on equipment in a conservation lab from unique perspectives.

Also featured is a pixel art video piece by Joo Jae-bum, juxtaposing high-definition imagery against blocky pixel images that resemble retro video games, depicting a day in the life of a conservation scientist in a video. A gallery dedicated to C's imaginary library introduces novels and science books as sources of literary inspiration for the imaginary conservation scientist.

Various video interviews by former renowned conservation scientists, such as Kang Jung-sik and Cha Byung-kab, have also been put on display.

Youn Bum-mo, head of MMCA, said the exhibition will offer special intrigue to visitors, providing unique visual representations of the art of conservation science.

"The exhibition will offer new insights on the art of conservation science into various research and studies related to the process of preservation and restoration of artworks," Youn said.

This photo provided by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) on June 3, 2020, shows "Pul Pul Pul" by Kim Jee-soo, which is on display at the "Conservator C's Day" exhibition at MMCA Cheongju. (Yonhap)

odissy@yna.co.kr
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