The exhibition in question is “APMAP 2017 Jeju - mystic birth” and it is being held at the Osulloc Tea Museum until Sep. 3.
The AmorePacific Museum of Art Project (APMAP) is a public art project that started in 2013 as “an effort to seek out and support young artists and contribute to the vitalization of the practice of public art and the growth of contemporary art.”
Held in different places for four consecutive years, part one ended in 2016, and part two will be held on Jeju from 2017 to 2020.
APMAP aims to bring outdoor installation art to Jeju that is site-specific and harmonious with nature.
Visitors to the exhibition at the Tea Museum will pass through the indoor part of the museum and then enter its inner gardens. Walking through the little paths in this garden will lead you past many fascinating art installations.
▲ Origins, Archetype, Belief Photo courtesy Jia Min Tan
“Origins, Archetype, Belief” is said to be the most popular artwork among the 16 installations on display.
This large structure blends elements of the stone tower used for warding off evil in villages and the traditional baby cradle used in Jeju called the gudeok. Moss has been planted on the structure and it releases a mist every 20 minutes. The moss is symbolic of the primary forests of Jeju, while the released fog symbolizes the mysterious aura of the origins of Jeju.
As suggested by the title of the exhibition, the theme of APMAP 2017 is the many legends and myths that relate to the birth of Jeju.
The 16 teams of young artists that gathered for this project traveled around Jeju, visiting the many locations featured in the myths of the island, and then used what they learned as the inspiration for their art.
▲ Girl 1, Girl 2 Photo courtesy AmorePacific
“Girl 1, Girl 2” is especially representative of art that blends into its surroundings. Located on a gentle slope, the steel wire structures of young girls dressed in the style of the 1960s and 1970s look like sketches in the air.
These structures are portrayals of little girls abandoned on an island who look out towards the sea in endless anticipation of their parents’ return.
According to the folktale “Aegi Eopgae(애기업개)”, when the women divers who were working at Marado Island were about to return to Jeju, the calm sea suddenly turned choppy. Legend has it that they could only return by leaving behind a baby on the island. This work was created in the hopes that these children could become deities, guardians of the island who no longer feel lonely or hurt.
▲ Yeongsilgiam_stick Photo courtesy Jia Min Tan
In a shaded area under some trees, a mass of white, stick-like figures look like memorial stones that local people use around graves. However, upon closer inspection, these white ceramic structures are made in the shape of disposable plastic water bottles and detergent containers. “Yeongsilgiam_stick” draws an analogy between the mysterious rock formations on Mt. Hallasan and the uniformity of modern city landscapes.
On second thoughts, these disposable containers are basically trash from our daily lives and they seem to conflict with the surrounding nature. It made me think about the complex relationship between modern humanity and Mother Nature.
Osulloc Tea Museum is open all year round and is one of the top visitor attractions on Jeju. This means that by holding an art exhibition it can give the art high exposure to both local and international visitors alike.
We spoke to Kim Ji-hyun from AmorePacific, and he told us that the idea behind APMAP was based on the island town of Naoshima, Japan, which is known for its many modern art museums, its architecture, and its sculptures. It was transformed into an island of art despite previously suffering from depopulation.
▲ Bridge of the goddess Photo courtesy AmorePacific
In Jeju’s case, from a land of exile in historical times, it has transformed into one of the hottest tourist destinations in recent years. Now, APMAP aims to brand Jeju as a new mecca of contemporary art and bring art closer to the public.
Jeju has a rich stock of myths and folktales. Its cultural and natural assets are combined with the objective of increasing Jeju’s appeal as a mystic island destination.
A day at the Osulloc Tea Museum will be time well spent with family and friends, as the visually appealing installations form excellent photo zones while providing an experience of Jeju’s cultural heritage. A cup of the museums refreshing green tea smoothie or ice cream finishes off the trip on a sweet note.
If the 16 installations are not enough for your art appetite, then Jeoji Artists’ Village and Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art are a ten-minute drive or thirty-minute bus ride away.
Osulloc Tea Museum opening hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. all year round. Free admission.
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