May 31 2017

Eungie Joo Named Contemporary Art Curator At SFMOMA

by HG Masters

SFMOMA’s new curator of contemporary art, EUNGIE JOO. Photo by Heinz Peter Knes, courtesy SFMOMA.

On May 31, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) announced Eungie Joo as its first dedicated curator of contemporary art. The role was newly established for Joo, who will join the museum in June. She will work across departments, with colleagues in the museum’s divisions of Painting and Sculpture, Photography, Media Arts, as well as with the museum’s public programmers, on curating exhibitions and acquiring artworks for the collection. Additionally, Joo will oversee the museum’s “New Work” series of site-specific commissioned projects by young artists.

Before joining SFMOMA, Joo was the artistic director of the 5th Anyang Public Art Project, in Anyang, South Korea, which opened in October 2016, with newly commissioned projects by 23 artists, many of which are semi-permanent additions to the landscape around the city. Joo has spent time in the Bay Area previously, receiving her doctorate from the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. In the United States, she has served as the founding director and curator of the Gallery at REDCAT in Los Angeles, from 2003 until 2007, when she became director of education and public programming at the New Museum in New York. Joo is also well known for her work internationally. She was the commissioner for the 2009 Korea Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, where she presented the work of South Korean mixed media artist Haegue Yang. After leaving the New Museum in 2012, she took a position as director of art and cultural programs at Instituto Inhotim, in Brazil, and was then named curator of Sharjah Biennial 12, in 2015, which she titled “The Past, the Present, the Possible.”

SFMOMA reopened in mid-May 2016, after its USD 610 million expansion by Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta, with 16,000-square-meters of additional exhibition space—three times more gallery space than the museum had previously. While the museum’s inaugural exhibitions drew from its collections, including the 100-year partnership with the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, SFMOMA’s displays and exhibitions have remained in the established North American mode, emphasizing early 20th-century and postwar modernism from both sides of the North Atlantic, alongside a notable collection of photography.

Suggesting a new direction toward international contemporary art, SFMOMA said in a public announcement that Joo would be “an ambassador to the local, national and international community of artists, collectors and dealers,” and would “strengthen SFMOMA’s ties to the contemporary art world in the Bay Area and beyond.” About her role and relocation, Joo commented that San Francisco is “an ideal place from which to imagine how US museums might interrogate, present and record contemporary art practices from around the world, while innovating public exchange and discourse.”

HG Masters is editor-at-large of ArtAsiaPacific.

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