What is a café to you? A place where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or a place where you can chat away with your friends? The definition of ‘café’, which generally refers to the French equivalent of coffee, has in fact metamorphosed into that of a much more comprehensive meaning: “a place to enjoy coffee and chat with other people.” Do the rows of coffee shops that line the roadsides making cup after cup of Americanos come to mind? Probably not. What CAH is about to introduce to you is something somewhat different. A café is also a place that holds exhibitions, book readings, or various cultural events. Artists can also showcase their works of art and give inspiration to one another. Likewise, with the purpose to provide a cultural backdrop for a venue that allows the convergence of art and the public, Seoul Museum presents “Café Society.”
What is a Café?
A café holds a different meaning to each and every one of us. You could be on your way to a café right now or maybe be in one reading this. Nevertheless, despite how it is defined by the dictionary: “a shop that sells coffee, drinks, wine, or delicatessens,” it may differ from the typical café we are familiar to. Moreover, the definition of a ‘café’ has changed gradually over time to one that holds almost a completely different meaning, as it does to a certain extent in Korea with various cafes like animal cafes or board game cafes. Regardless, they all share one common denominator: the fact that they provide us with a comfortable and relaxing space.
A Peek into the Exhibition
Romance Café 1950s
Reminiscent of a coffee shop from the 1950s, Romance Café gives off a romantic yet relaxing and free-spirited vibe, as if taking us on a journey back into the 1950s. Within the walls of the room are adorned with works from Seoul Museum’s Modern collection of Korea, embracing the surrounding ambience that differs from that of today.
Garnished with pink and white striped wallpaper, Sweet Blossom gives off an ambience that is sweet yet sharp, smooth yet comforting to the soul. Alike to how our youth seems like the happiest period in our lives, we can take a glimpse of what we have missed or have not encountered yet. Through the perspective of the young artists of that period, let us see what hopes and desires filled up their lives.
If you enjoyed Sweet Blossom, you’re going to enjoy this even more. A somewhat contrasting concept to the previous room, Cold Brew, as the blue walls suggest, creates a cooler atmosphere that could seem chilly as well. How people became more individualized as time went by can be seen through the honest stories of these young artists. Cold Brew provides us with the chance to peek into the darker side of their society and how it affected them personally.
Dark Roasting, as the name implies, lets off a dark aura in contrast to the previous rooms. Like how negativity is associated with the dark, we are able to look into the lives of the worn out and exhausted youths of the time. As we take a step into the lives of these artists, they give us perspective on how they were able to get through tough times through their works of art.
Art is Anything You Can Get Away With
When we usually think about the term “art,” most of us are inclined to create an image of a painting on a wall or a carved figure standing in front of a building. Yet, we know that it could be so much more. Like what world renowned artist, director, and producer Andy Warhol once said, “Art is anything you can get away with,” there is no limit to what can be defined as art. The “meaningless” scribbles in our notebooks, the sounds produced from banging on the random keys of a piano, and so much more can be considered art. It is but confined by a few simple words that determine its meaning. Likewise, the “Café Society” exhibition is a form of art that brings people together to admire the aesthetics of not just the paintings on the wall but the exhibition in its entire sense.
There are those who carry a cup of coffee on their way to work or school. To these people, “a café” only ceases to be a café in a spatial manner. There are those who avoid going to cafés to save an extra dollar or two. To these people, they are missing out on an opportunity. A cup of coffee at a café could literally be a means to take a moment’s break away from one’s hectic life. Nevertheless, as we know, a café goes beyond that of a place to simply enjoy a cup of coffee. It is one of the most popular places in which we can spend some meaningful time as well. If you wish to find out what kind of meaning the “Café Society” exhibition holds, why not drop by some time.
Period: 2017.03.28 ~ 2017.09.10
Time: Tuesdays ~ Sundays 11am ~ 7pm / Closed on Mondays
Location: Seoul Museum, Buam-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
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