Lee Myung-ja, an 80-year-old woman who lives in Mapo District, west of Seoul, likes to go to art museums with her friends, such as the Gwacheon branch of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. (MMCA) in Gyeonggi.
However, she hadn’t known for years that the museum offers free shuttles to and from Seoul Grand Park Station, Subway Line 4, which is about a 10-minute drive between locations.
“I’ve always had my friends or family drive me there,” Lee said. “I thought that was the only option.”
For years, the MMCA’s Gwacheon branch didn’t have a proper bus stop where people could wait. Only a temporary shutdown existed, but it was so obscure that many, including Lee, were unaware of it.
The museum is surrounded by a forest and there is no public transport available, so the only ideal way to get there is by car or taxi.
To facilitate the visit, the museum has installed three shuttle stops which were opened on December 15. Shuttles run every 20 minutes and are free.
Kim Sara, chief architect of local architecture studio Diagonal Thoughts, undertook the project to create architectural art at three locations: Exit 4 of Seoul Grand Park Station and the main and rear gates of the Gwacheon branch of the MMCA. The sculpture-like installations are made of charred logs and aluminum.
The new bus stops are part of the “MMCA Gwacheon Project 2021,” an annual competition held by the museum that encourages artists to revitalize and make good use of the nearby outdoors.
Kim’s three sculpture installations are called “( ) function”. The parentheses open up the possibility for prefixes like “multi-“, “mal-” or “dys-” to fill in the space.
“I thought long and hard about the role of a bus stop, especially for an art museum,” Kim said at a press conference on Thursday. “As you can see, I also tried to represent the beauty of negative spaces. Benches are not the only option to wait. You can also lean on the slanted walls. I did not necessarily think of a “perfect” way for people to use this space, but rather, it is entirely open to interpretation.
The Gwacheon project is not limited to bus stops. The interior of the museum buses are heavily scented with a forest scent, made by local perfume brand Sutome Apothecary, and filled with an ambient bell sound by artist Jang Sung-gun.
The Gwacheon MMCA branch is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day except Monday.
BY SHIN MIN-HEE [[email protected]]