Resource Card - City Gallery Wellington

City Gallery Wellington resource card
Seung Yul Oh: MOAMOA, A Decade
[b. 1981 Korea, New Zealand]
The Ability to Blow Themselves Up 2004-2013 digital video, sound, 10:31 minutes (screen capture)
City Gallery Wellington’s education service is supported by the Ministry of Education’s LEOTC fund.
City Gallery Wellington resource card
Seung Yul Oh: MOAMOA, A Decade
About the artist
Key terms
Seung Yul Oh (born Seoul, Korea 1981) moved to New Zealand in
1997, where he completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (2003) followed by
a Master of Fine Arts (2005), both at the Elam School of Fine Arts,
University of Auckland. Raised and educated in New Zealand and
South Korea, Oh produces playful works full of references to both
East Asian pop culture and to Western modern art. He has been the
recipient of numerous awards and residencies and has exhibited
widely in New Zealand and abroad including recent solo shows Bogle
Bogle at The Dowse Art Museum, 2010, SEESAW at ONE and J.
Gallery, Seoul, 2013 and Seung Yul Oh: Joyride at TSB Bank
Wallace Arts Centre, Auckland, 2013.
Expansion – the action of becoming larger, more extensive or spread
Multiple – more than one of the same object.
Scale – the relative size of things.
Interactive Art – a form of art that involves the spectator in a way that
allows the art to achieve its purpose.
Artist statement
About the work
Seung Yul Oh is an artist who is interested in the possibilities of play.
His work is predominantly sculptural although he also makes
paintings and videos. Oh is well known for his improvisational
approach to materials – in the past expanded foam, popcorn and
balloons have featured in his practice, more recently his work has
taken the form of hard fibreglass and resin sculptures or soft inflatable
Oh’s sculptures have been playfully described as ‘space invaders’ .
He creates forms which stack up, expand out or multiply into the
gallery space, transforming rooms and creating experiences for the
viewer to navigate. Within this exhibition, MOAMOA (Korean for
‘gather gather’ or ‘gather together’), we find spaces for collective play
or action: Periphery (2013) is a ‘forest’ of yellow inflatables which we
can push through or get lost within, experiencing a sculpture from the
inside out; Sphere Square (2013) is a gigantic room-sized bean bag
which can be clambered onto and explored like a landscape; and
Oddooki (2010) is a collection of five egg shaped birds, toys from a
childhood memory which have been scaled up and transformed into
large sculptures that rock and chime. In Seung Yul Oh’s work the
size of familiar objects is often exaggerated turning the ordinary into
the magical.
References to food and the body have often played a part in Oh’s
practice – in one early exhibition he battered and deep fried his own
paintings. Recent works on show here transform classic Korean
dishes into gravity defying resin sculptures. Noodles rise uncannily
from their bowls transforming familiar dishes into something
unfamiliar and strange.
“I am interested in different ways of introducing, prompting or limiting
relationships between the viewers’ body and an object, shape or mass. I
want to initiate an exchange of feelings, to have the viewer achieve a
sense of empathy with the work, with each other, and with the world they
move through.”
Pre/post-visit activities
Altered Scale Narrative
Read a story or watch a film in which the main character(s) finds
themselves shrunk or grown to a different size. How do they
experience the world differently when they find themselves too big or
small for their surroundings?
Write a story in which you find yourself shrunk down to a tiny size.
Imagine how ordinary objects might be transformed at this scale,
what unexpected things might you notice from this new point of
view? Pick one room in your house and describe how you would get
from one side to the other, describing some of the unexpected
difficulties and pleasures you might encounter.
Moamoa picnic
Social science
Inspired by Seung Yul Oh’s incredible resin noodle sculptures, think
about food that reminds you of the place that your family is from.
Have a class discussion about your favourite dishes. Gather
together for a class picnic to share some traditional food.
Sure to Rise Sculpture Project
Visual Art, Science
Find out about the reaction that causes the dough to expand by
performing this simple experiment using yeast and a balloon:
Mix up a batch of bread dough and sculpt simple forms inspired by
works in Seung Yul Oh’s exhibition. Put your sculptures in a warm
place, photograph at five minute intervals to document the changes
as the dough expands and make a flipbook using this sequence of
images. Bake your sculptures and brainstorm some ways to create
an exhibition of your work.
Compare and contrast
Art History
Choose one of the artists from the related artists list and find out
more about their work. What does their practice have in common
with that of Seung Yul Oh? How does the work differ?
MOAMOA charts Oh’s belief in the transformative power of art: its
ability to turn the everyday into the magical, the passive experience
into active encounter, the individual into the collective and the
mundane into the profound.
Related artists/artworks
David Cross
Based in Wellington for the past decade, David Cross is an artist who
uses performance, installation, video and photography in his work. He
is well known for creating large scale inflatable environments which
draw audiences into unexpected situations. You may remember his
giant inflatable work which took over a room at City Gallery as part of
The Obstinate Object exhibition in 2012.
Martin Creed
Work no. 200
Martin Creed’s Work no 200 involved containing exactly half the air in
a room inside white balloons. Viewers were invited to immerse
themselves in the balloon-filled room to experience claustrophobia
and childlike lightness in equal measure.
Anish Kapoor
Ark Nova
Ark Nova is a giant inflatable concert hall by British-Indian sculptor
Anish Kapoor and architect Arata Isozaki. It was created to host free
concerts in areas of Japan devastated by the 2011 earthquake and
tsunami. The huge structure is made from a translucent purple
membrane that can fully inflate in two hours. The simple, curved
shape of the work and use of monochrome colour is characteristic of
Kapoor’s sculptural practice
Further information
Seung Yul Oh: MOAMOA, City Gallery Wellington and Dunedin Public
Art Gallery, 2014
Website links: retrieved May 2014