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Seoul Photo Festival


Inaugurated in 2010, the Seoul Photo Festival celebrates its tenth edition this year. The first edition of Seoul Photo Festival (Artistic Director Youngjun Lee) opened with the theme of Returning Seoul to Seoul, examining the relationship between the city of Seoul and the medium of photography. This year’s edition takes a step further by expanding the relationship to include the art museum, and explores the “triangular structure” created by their new dynamic.

Over the years, the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) has undergone dramatic changes following major cultural and historical events that took place in the city of Seoul. The museum was first inaugurated in 1988, the year of the Seoul Olympics, on the site of Gyeonghui-gung Palace. In 1995, the museum unveiled its new exhibition space to celebrate Seoul’s 600th anniversary as Korea’s capital, and in 2002, the year of Korea Japan World Cup, the museum relocated to its current location, the former site of the Supreme Court in the Seosomun neighborhood of Seoul.

SeMA’s permanent collection, which shapes the museum’s institutional identity, also largely consists of works that not only address the city growth and urban issues of Seoul, but also actively reflect on the lives and challenges of its citizens. The collection includes works in all media and materials, but at the same time, photography sits at the heart with over one-fifth in the number of works. Traversing the boundaries of originality and reproducibility, professionalism and amateurism, technology and media, object and data, photography has continuously altered, enhanced and expanded the realm of art. Its strong presence in SeMA’s collection likewise testifies to the fact that it is no longer simply an artistic medium, but more broadly, an index which mirrors the shifts and transitions of urban culture.

In this context, we are greatly anticipating the inauguration of the new Seoul Museum of Photography(tentative name), scheduled to open in 2022 in Changdong, Dobong-gu district, near the BukSeoul Museum of Art. In the rapidly changing media environment today, we believe this very first public art institution in Korea dedicated to photography will help further visualize and expand the public function of art through the new triangular structure of photography, art museum and the city of Seoul. This year’s tenth edition of Seoul Photo Festival will take up the entire exhibition space inside the Buk-Seoul Museum of Art as a way to preview ournear future, in anticipation of the Seoul Museum of Photography

Entitled Open Your Storage, Seoul Photo Festival 2019 is organized in three sections–“History,” consisting of works and archives which document the history of Korean photography in the 1950s; “Circulation,” researching and exploring the contemporary practice of photography, and “Discourse,” examining the latest debates among photography collectives that are active in the art world today. The three sections serve as both the subtitle and framework of the exhibition.

Myeongdong Salon and the Kameradang(amateur photographers) in the 1950s, which represents the “History” section of the exhibition, is meticulously curated by Curator Kyungmin Lee, Assistant Curator Geeui Yu and Coordinator Namjoo HUH. The Research Show of the “Discourse” section is presented by Curator Jinhwon Hong and Coordinator Kideok Park. Lastly, Love Yourself, which examines the “Circulation” within the ecosystem of photography is curated by SeMA Curator KWON Hye-in and Coordinator Kim A-Yeong. I would like to thank all members of the curatorial staff and offer my congratulations on their exceptional presentation. I would also like to thank our exhibition partner Apexcoms, as well as all of my fellow colleagues at SeMA, who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make this exhibition possible. Finally, I would like to extend my invitation to the citizens of Seoul, whose love and passion for taking, sharing and viewing photographs embrace “smart” technology more than any other citizens in the world. Like a streak of light piercing through the camera obscura, your presence and participation will shine light on this meaningful event.
Thank you.

Beck Jee-sook
Director, Seoul Museum of Art