Nam June Paik Art Center Highlights
Goo Jeonghwa, Jung Yunhoe
Kim Seong Eun, Lee Sooyoung, Rhee Yujean
November 30, 2019
Nam June Paik Art Center as an experimental museum has focused on exhibitions and various programs filled with vitality and energy of artists and audiences. Meanwhile, what attracts less attention was its collection; some say its small collection is problematic. “Nam June Paik Art Center has to collect as many of Paik’s works as possible to live up to its name.” This may sound reasonable, but the question as to what to collect needs to come with “why” and “how to use it.” NJP Art Center is undoubtedly an art museum, though not designated as such, and has made steady efforts to improve its collection. Emphasis is placed on concisely representing Paik’s oeuvre while not taking each piece as a sample of a period or a style, and forging close relations between works. As a museum run with the public resource of a local government, it perhaps cannot match the collections of much larger national or private museums. Nonetheless, the collection of NJP Art Center should delve into Paik’s art historical importance and enable him to live on via this museum. The museum collection, as a material culture, bears responsibility to mediate between the past and the future from a contemporary point of view.
This requires physically and technically preserving the collection and also broadening the spectrum of its contents. Each piece of the collection can become alive when its art historical essentials are provided; when systematic and creative research is further conducted; and when contents are developed to interest both professionals and the general public. Nam June Paik Art Center Highlights is the first step of those efforts. The publication about the collection 11 years after NJP Art Center’s opening might look belated, and our endeavor devoted to this book was something to counteract it. For this publication, works were carefully selected out of the collection to present readers with an overview of Paik’s art. A total of 50 pieces are included in a chronological order. Kept away from interpretations or evaluations of authors, the descriptions are focused on the appearance of works, Paik’s intention based on his writings, and art historical backgrounds and significances. The artworks included in this book apparently take traditional forms of art such as photographs, sculptures and installations. However, they embody Paik’s radical performance, collaborative spirit, intense exploration of media from electronic circuitry to laser, and philosophical and historical deliberations about art and technology.
Authors of Nam June Paik Art Center Highlights worked as curators at NJP Art Center for long and, with adoration for Paik, built strong research capacity by organizing exhibitions and academic programs. What is contained in this book is a result of the authors’ time spent with Paik and with NJP Art Center.