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Entertaining tricks in media art

A man painted from head to toe stands against a painted wall as if he walked straight from a portrait painting. His moving hands seem so unreal that it looks like he could only exist in a painting.

When it is taken as a photograph, the scene actually turns into a two-dimensional painting.

In this opening performance for a joint Korean and Russian media art exhibition, artist Yoo Hyun-mi shows the audience how she paints on a real person and objects to make painting-like photographs.

The visual deception is the overarching theme of the current exhibition that presents media works of art by Korean and Russian artists at Wooyang Museum of Contemporary Art in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province.

The museum has brought together photographs, videos and media installations of 12 Korean and Russian media artists to mark the 25th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between South Korea and Russia.

“This is the first exhibition that Russian artists are being introduced in a group in Korea, although there have been many Korean artists introduced to Russia before,” said artistic director of the exhibition Kim Young-ho at a news conference last Friday in Gyeongju.

Media art has emerged as the popular medium of art today, but Russia’s contributions have remained unfamiliar to many people outside the country.

“Russian contemporary art has been rarely known outside Russia in part because it has not been long since the country started reconnecting with the outside world after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Most of the popular Russian artists people know are from old days. This exhibition means a lot because we can introduce compelling contemporary Russian artists to the Korean public,” said Andrey Martynov, general director of the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, who also codirected the exhibition.

Martynov said he selected the works of six Russian artists with have clear meanings and expressions so that viewers could easily understand the artists’ intentions.

The pieces on display make the exhibition an easy guide to the current trend of media art and the museum is an entertaining tourist spot for visitors to Gyeongju, a city with UNESCO-designated historic areas with architectural and cultural artifacts from the Silla Kingdom (B.C. 57 -A.D. 935).

Russian artist Leonid Tishkov presents mystical photographs featuring a crescent moon placed in urban and rural places. The artist travels the world carrying a moon-shaped light installation and places it at seemingly random spots, such as at a construction site in Taiwan, on a lakeside or at an abandoned hut in the Artic.

Artist duo Mioon takes over the magical ambience with the tall shadow play installations featuring different shapes of objects and light that create architectural structures, human and animal figures through the translucent screens using the light.

Russian artist Rauf Mamedov, one of the top-selling artists in Russia who is also as a movie director, presents a unique photograph featuring people with Down syndrome posing as biblical characters. In his “Pieta,” the artist himself becomes a crucified Jesus and people with Down syndrome act as his 12 disciples.

The exhibition runs until Sept. 30 at Wooyang Museum of Contemporary Art in Gyeongju. For more information, visit