Exhibition | Dunedin Public Art Gallery | Dunedin [New Zeland] 23/11/2013 – 27/04/2014
Seung Yul Oh is a Korean artist who spent some time studying in New-Zealand and now has an exhibition at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, called MOAMOA: A decade. If you want more legit info, go to this website: from here on I’ll be babbling about the way this exhibition made me feel, without trying to analyse it or speak any truths about it.
First of all I saw the image of a giant white mouse on a flyer and thought it would be a design exhibition. I wasn’t quite right, but what I found out when I got there was much more exciting…
Most of the first floor of the gallery was dedicated to Seung Yul Oh. The first piece I saw consisted of what seemed to be two massive beach balls, taking most of the hallway space. Squashed together in between the wall, floor and ceiling, peacefully balanced. I have had a problem with galleries; they are so white and intimidating, and silent. The silence is probably the worst part of it. Anyway, this exhibition started to make me feel different about galleries. You were actually allowed to touch the things!! (woohoo). It felt fun to touch, but still felt like I was breaking the rules.
Then, I saw the giant mouse for real (it even had a belly button) and it was looking at what the information told me was evoking a waterfall. It was a giant black and white match coming from the ceiling. I didn’t think about a waterfall at all (but that’s just me), and went bold and literal with my interpretation. I just thought about how it would look and sound if someone tried to strike that match. Pretty damn cool indeed! And dangerous… It bugs me how people always feel the need to explain things for you. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to understand the artist’s intention, but I think explanations, discussions and all that material should be provided in a booklet at the end of the exhibition, not on the wall next to it. You know, it should be available, but not forced onto your mind. Galleries should let you feel what you feel, and then give you the opportunity to understand the intentions, rather than influence you straight away. Just so you can compare the two.
There were a couple of rooms dedicated to the artist’s work on food. It was aesthetically cool, but all it really did was make me feel hungry.
It was what came after that which I really want to talk about: A forest of giant yellow and white air-filled sticks. It was so amazing; it made me feel like a child again. I took a walk through it, even hid in it for a little bit (there wasn’t quite enough of them to get lost, but you could definitely hide comfortably). I love it when artists allow you to walk into their works, into their worlds. It puts you in a light-minded mood and makes you feel good.
In the next room was a giant bean bag with inflatable mountains in it. You could take off your shoes and take a walk into the comfortable landscape, chill for a bit, imagine it was your own little world, and feel like a giant. The video projections on the walls made the whole room feel like a dream, a bit melancholic but in the way good dreams can make you feel. These two rooms had something liberating about them that was not as receivable in the others.
The last room was filled with oversized chicken toys that you could push around using fabric gloves. It was pretty fun, but the weight of the chickens (or birds?) made me feel a bit shy. I had this mixed feeling about it, I wanted to push it hard but didn’t exactly want to break them.
The exhibition was colourful but in a very minimal way; mostly two-toned, white and bright colour. It was playful, liberating, and reminiscent of childhood feelings. Entering a world of giant balloons, mice, and toys was a good feeling, but being allowed to interact with it was amazing!
For a kid who used to look for Smurfs villages in the forests of New-Caledonia, and daydreamed about being as small as an ant in a gigantic tropical forest, this exhibition was pretty cool.
Text & Images: Severine Costa