Tate Modern presents a major exhibition of the work of visionary Korean-born artist Nam June Paik. Renowned for his innovative use of emerging technologies, Paik’s playfully entertaining work remains an inspiration for artists, musicians and performers across the globe. Over 200 artworks, photographs, films and archive objects are brought together in a mesmerising riot of light and sound, from rarely seen early experiments to large-scale immersive installations.
Nam June Paik (1932-2006) developed a collaborative and interdisciplinary practice that foresaw the importance of mass media and new technologies, coining the phrase ‘electronic superhighway’ to predict the future of communication in an internet age. He has become synonymous with the electronic image through a prodigious output of manipulated TV sets, live performances, global television broadcasts, single-channel videos, and video installations.
To introduce Paik’s radical world, the exhibition opens with TV Garden 1974/2002. This large-scale installation explores diminishing distinctions between nature and technology, comprising dozens of television sets that appear to grow from within a garden of lush foliage. Paik’s first robot work Robot K-456 1964 is also on display and a room is dedicated to screening three of Paik’s ground-breaking satellite videos. Broadcast throughout the 1980s, these ambitious works feature icons of popular culture including Peter Gabriel, Laurie Anderson, David Bowie and Lou Reed, defining the ‘MTV aesthetic’ of the era.
The artist also played a pivotal role in Fluxus, an international network of avant-garde artists, composers, designers and poets, through the cross-germination of radical aesthetics and experimentation. Born in South Korea, but living and working in Japan, Germany and the USA, Paik collaborated with a global community of cutting-edge artists. The show highlights key creative partnerships with composer John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham and artist Joseph Beuys. Paik’s collaboration with cellist Charlotte Moorman was also deeply significant for both artists, who developed a repertoire of provocative performances incorporating Paik’s TV sculptures within elaborate costumes and props. The exhibition includes TV Cello 1971 and TV Bra for Living Sculpture 1969, alongside videos and photography of their performances.
A room is devoted to Paik’s pivotal first solo exhibition, Exposition of Music – Electronic Television. Several of the original artworks are brought together again, including prepared pianos and musical instruments, alongside examples of the artist’s earliest manipulated televisions. Further highlights include seminal works that demonstrate the influence of Zen, Taoism and wider Buddhist philosophies in Paik’s approach to art and technology, including TV Buddha 1974 and One Candle 1989. The exhibition culminates with the dazzling installation Sistine Chapel 1993, recreated for the first time since Paik was awarded the Golden Lion for the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale over 25 years ago.
Nam June Paik is curated by Sook-Kyung Lee, Senior Curator, International Art, Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational, Tate Modern, and Rudolf Frieling, Curator of Media Arts, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, with Valentina Ravaglia, Curator, and Michael Raymond, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern. The exhibition is organised by Tate Modern and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in collaboration with Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and National Gallery of Singapore.
The Future is Now
Mondays, 28 October to 18 November 2019, 18.45-20.45
A four-week course examining how artists have used different forms of media to shape ideas of the future.
The Networks of Nam June Paik
Tuesday 29 October 2019, 18.30-20.00
A panel discussion exploring the influence of Nam June Paik.
Uniqlo Tate Lates: Nam June Paik
Friday 29 November 2019, 18.00-22.00
A free evening of art, music, film, drop-in workshops and pop-up talks inspired by Nam June Paik.
Artist’s Talk: Zach Blas
Tuesday 3 December 2019, 18.30-20.00
Zach Blas will discuss how his own practice has been influenced by Nam June Paik.
ABOUT THE TERRA FOUNDATION FOR AMERICAN ART
The Terra Foundation for American Art is dedicated to fostering exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States for national and international audiences. Recognizing the importance of experiencing original works of art, the foundation provides opportunities for interaction and study, beginning with the presentation and growth of its own art collection in Chicago. To further cross-cultural dialogue on American art, the foundation supports and collaborates on innovative exhibitions, research, and educational programs. Implicit in such activities is the belief that art has the potential both to distinguish cultures and to unite them.
ABOUT HYUNDAI TATE RESEARCH CENTRE: TRANSNATIONAL
Over the past two decades Tate’s collection, displays and programmes have expanded beyond Europe and North America to be more open, inclusive and reflective of its audiences. Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational marks a next decisive step on this journey by placing the exchange of ideas between art and artists from around the world at the very core of Tate. The Centre will transform how Tate grows and shares knowledge about multiple art histories with individuals and organisations around the world. Over the next 5 years, the Centre’s vision is to offer new perspectives on global art histories.
Hyundai Motor’s support for the Centre began in January 2019 and will continue to December 2024, in addition to their support of Tate Modern’s annual Hyundai Commission which began in 2015. During this time the Centre will host several research events including annual symposia, seminars and workshops at Tate and beyond. For more information visit tate.org.uk/transnational.
ABOUT HYUNDAI MOTOR
Established in 1967, Hyundai Motor Company is committed to becoming a lifetime partner in automobiles and beyond with its range of world-class vehicles and mobility services available in more than 200 countries. Employing more than 110,000 employees worldwide, Hyundai has sold more than 4.5 million vehicles globally. Hyundai Motor continues to enhance its product line-up with vehicles that are helping to build solutions for a more sustainable future, such as NEXO, the world’s first dedicated hydrogen-powered SUV. More information about Hyundai Motor and its products can be found at worldwide.hyundai.com or globalpr.hyundai.com.