49 Minutes in Busan’s Museum of Modern Art

Back from my whirlwind one day, one night mission to Shanghai, where I caught up with Canadian band Jets Overhead on their 11-day China tour.  After performing the previous two nights at Expo’s Great Hall and America Square, they rocked the stage at Yuyintang bar, infusing the packed room with a whole lot of rich vocals and thick, layered grooves. This week I’m putting all the deets together for an upcoming story in Eloquence mag, currently titled “24 Hours in Shanghai with Jets Overhead.”  In the mornings I wake wishing I could sip coffee and write all afternoon, but the kids and the classes await, so more late-night sessions it is.  New posts to come after Saturday… 

In the meantime, if you’re in Busan (or planning to visit) and haven’t been here yet, you’ve gotta go.

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Though I suggest giving yourself a little more time than the mere 49 minutes I did. 

My recent intentions of a leisurely Sunday afternoon wandering the three-story, wood-floored, high-ceilinged expanse of modern works were foiled by a 3:30 a.m. U.S. vs Ghana World Cup game viewed the night before from a booth at a crowded bar in Seomyeong called Metal City.  I’d joined in a show of support for the usual suspects, my American friends Dianna, Bryan, and Leah, and since Korea lost to Uruguay earlier in the evening, I had a real itch to see a win.  The U.S. lost.  Ghana whooped them in overtime, and as we wandered defeatedly into the daylit alley around 6 a.m., I wondered if the museum was a Sunday dream I should forget.

But waking at 3:30 in the afternoon is no reason to feel the day has disappeared, right?  At least that’s what I decided.  Subway card in hand, I hopped onto line 1, transferred to 3, and then to 2, riding it all the way to the stop called “Busan Museum of Modern Art.”

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I had no idea what exhibition was showing, until I saw this sign…

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The front-desk man took a quick glance at the clock when I approached.  It was 5:11.  Entry, he said, would be free.  (This may be the first time arriving late for something has saved me money.)  The usual fee is only 700 won for adults, mind you (for my Canadian readers, that’s the equivalent of 60 cents), but still, there’s something mildy exuberant about a surprise waive of the passage of coin.

I had the place almost entirely to myself.  The floors were a light, warm wood.  The ceilings rose up higher than I could have hoped and in the middle, four metal-framed staircases stepped up and down, inviting me and my camera to venture.

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On the 2nd floor stood a single canvas painted blue…

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which reminded me of my friend Abbas Akhavan, an Iranian-Canadian artist who for years has hung a similar albeit much smaller work on the walls of his various bedrooms. 

Photographs of Japanese streets appeared through a doorway on the right…

 

and through another, figures in red…

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and a self-portrait of this man, from China, whose name was Datong DaZhang

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and who commited suicide in the year 2000, calling it his “last work of art.”

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Close by, images of a curious room hung…

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with a fitting title beside.

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And back on the first floor, “Conversion of Water, Body, and Earth” re-arranged the roomscape with 600 cans, water, and sand.

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Realizing I still had 10 minutes before closing time, I zipped up to the top floor, where “Big Candy from Grandma” by Ahn Tae Young appeared to burst from the walls…

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and Kim Do Hee’s  “Document for the beasts’ meeting” blared human-made animal sounds and expressions through four single-channel, wall-size videos.

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The final room showed shapes of an urban sensibility…

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and a figure and his shadow suspended.

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After, you can roam through the museum’s outdoor sculpture park and check out a collection of grey blocks carved with facial features, or the giant metal hand with what look likes a canon growing out of it. 

Or just lie down on a bench for a few minutes, gaze up through the leaves of thin-branched tree, and relax.  After all, it’s a museum.  No need to rush!

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You can still catch “Contemporary Art of China and Japan” this weekend: the exhibit runs until 6pm on Sunday, July 11, along with the Houei Collection, showcasing 100 modern works from Vietnam.  I recommend.

Note: Some of the pieces shown here are part of exhibits other than the two mentioned above. 

Busan Museum of Art Hours:

10 a.m.- 6 pm (Fridays 10 a.m.-8p.m.)  Closed Mondays

The Route: Take subway line 2 to the stop called “Busan Museum of Modern Art”, and follow the signs. (Two stops before Haeundae)  Enjoy!

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4 thoughts on “49 Minutes in Busan’s Museum of Modern Art

  1. HONOURED to be able to see what you saw..
    Very well captured my love!
    Was Datong DaZhang from Tibet?
    I am quite curious of this random martyr to art.
    Loving the Tait-art-ness of it!

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