Happy Welcome

June 19, 2009

If you’ve driven past the museum—or kept up with some LA art blogs —in the last week or two, you’ve likely seen some of Choi Jeong-Hwa’s artworks taking over LACMA’s campus as part of the upcoming exhibition Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea. His HappyHappy hangs in the BP Grand Entrance, and last week he wrapped the Ahmanson Building in bright fabrics—a work called Welcome. Choi has been at the museum installing his work, so Michele Urton, our assistant curator of contemporary art, asked him a few questions.

Why do you always do site-specific installations?
I don’t like inside museums. I like outside museums, so everybody can have the art. Because people want to feel and have communication with the art. Art is life. So everyone, anyone, can be the artist. I wanted them to make their own art from this experience.

The Ahmanson Building, it is a medieval color. L.A. is so spread out, I wanted to make something eye-catching. I use usual colors and simple design to make folk art.

[vimeo vimeo.com/5228545]

Speaking of Los Angeles, this is your first outdoor installation here. What are your thoughts on the city?
Every day when I am here I take transportation by bus or I am walking and I see the city has not so many colors. I want to give to the city something bright. I want to shine a light on L.A. And always I love people’s reaction. If it is art or not art is not important; people know on their own what it is. Contemporary art doesn’t need a paper label to explain it.

While you where installing HappyHappy, you had a chance to talk with visitors about your work. What did they say about it?
First, all the plastic is from the local 99¢ Store. This is very important to me. Art is 99¢. Some people asked me, may I make this and hang it in my kitchen? And I answer, yes please. Your heart is my art. And also touch is important—touch the art.

What would you like to say to the public?
Happy Welcome.

You often repeat the words in your titles, like HappyHappy.
Yes, we wanted to make our own paradise, like a utopia, because in our daily life, we have only a short time to forget our troubles and be happy. Art is everything, everything is art. Art is not in the museum, art is your own daily life. I think so.

Michele Urton, Assistant Curator