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Dazzling display of art goes underground: ‘Bunker de Lumieres: Klimt’ in Jeju brings masterpieces to life

Nov 20,2018
Bunker de Lumieres opened last Friday at Seogwipo, Jeju Island, as the third franchise of the Amiex exhibitions by French company Culturespaces. [TMONET]
For its first exhibition, Bunker de Lumieres presents “Bunker de Lumieres : Klimt,” showing works of renowned Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Friedensreich Hundertwasser. [YOON SO-YEON, TMONET]
SEOGWIPO, Jeju - On the far east side of Jeju is a neighborhood named Seongsan, home to the famous Seongsan Sunrise Peak. Among the lush, beautiful scenery is a bunker hidden from the naked eye, its exterior covered with the dirt and trees to blend in with the rest of the landscape. What used to be a secret bunker belonging to communications company KT has been transformed into a massive art museum that is unlike any art space in Korea.

Bunker de Lumieres opened on Friday, showcasing its first exhibition, “Bunker de Lumieres : Klimt.” This is the third edition of the “Amiex” exhibition series by French company Culturespaces. The Art and Music Immersive Experience - hence the abbreviation Amiex - takes place across 2979.15 square meters, and the 40-minute media art show runs every hour. It features 30 minutes of Austrian maestro Gustav Klimt followed by 10 minutes of Austrian artist and architect, Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

The bunker was originally built in 1990 by the local government to maintain and preserve submarine cables that were installed from Jeju to Tokyo in case of war. It was run by KT until the early 2000s. Afterwards, it was left abandoned until 2012 when the government auctioned it off to an individual. The space remained largely unused and sealed off from the public until the exhibit’s organizers, local IT company Tmonet, learned of the facility last year.

The “Bunker de Lumieres” exhibition is the third edition of the “Amiex” exhibition series, and is the first to be held outside of France. Following the “Carrieres de Lumieres” exhibit held in 2012 and the “Atelier des Lumieres” held in April, the Bunker dazzles guests with lights that are projected onto every inch and corner of the space, and music that adds to the narrative of the video.

“Carrieres” first opened five years ago in an old quarry in Les Baux-de-Provence, southern France. “Atelier” was held in an abandoned factory in Paris. Culturespaces first renovated an unused cavern with the intention of turning the whole space into an immersive art museum, taking full advantage of the venue’s unique features that were difficult to find at other museums: the height and immense space.

Instead of a conventional exhibition that depends on individual art works hanging on the walls for visitors to gawk at, Culturespaces thought that filling up the entire space with their works, which are made through light and music, would dazzle and entertain visitors. The “Atelier” exhibition has seen over a million visitors within six months, and still attracts hundreds of people each day.

With 100 projectors installed throughout the museum space, the Bunker exhibition celebrates this year as the 100th year after Austrian master Klimt’s death. His famous golden paintings - 750 of them in total including “Le Baiser” (1908-1909), “Adele Block Bauer I” (1907) and “Danae” (1907-1908) - are displayed within the main animated work that runs for 30 minutes. Klimt’s works are rearranged into 2,000 visually spectacular images.

“This is an exhibition that goes beyond our conventional methods of viewing works of art, which usually stay still on the museum walls,” said Park Jin-woo, president of Tmonet.

Directed by Gianfranco Iannuzzi, the animation begins with Neoclassicism in Vienna, moving on to Klimt and another Austrian artist who was deeply influenced by Klimt, Egon Schiele. The shorter 10-minute animation features works by Hundertwasser, with his colorful and geometrical paintings. The main animation will be on display until next October, but the shorter piece, according to Park, will change every three to four months with new content.

“With the Bunker de Lumieres, we now have the chance for people to enjoy a new form of cultural content here in Korea,” said Park. “The contents that we have now have been made by a very talented art director from Venice, but we plan to make something of our own in the future that could be exported to the West. For our next piece, we’re preparing to make something featuring art works by masters and young artists in Korea.”

The opening ceremony for the Bunker took place on Friday afternoon, with president Park of Tmonet, along with Jeju Governor Won Hee-ryong, French Ambassador to Korea Fabien Penone and President of Culturespaces Bruno Monnier.

“We’re very grateful that a world-class media art genre has been presented to us here in Jeju Island,” said Gov. Won.

“We hope that the Bunker de Lumieres becomes an opportunity for people to experience something new and be inspired.”

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]

“Bunker de Lumieres : Klimt” will be held until Oct. 27, 2019. Take buses No. 101, 111, or 112 at the Jeju International Airport, get off at Seongsan Bus Exchange stop, and then walk 10 minutes to the art space. If going by car, search for Bunker de Lumieres, or the Seongsan Community Service Centre, on your navigation system. For more information, visit www.bunkerdelumieres.com or call 1522-2653