Book now for Madrid 07

First the good news. You have an excuse to escape from the UK in dreary February next year for a long weekend in Madrid (15-19 February 2007): ARCO, a contemporary art expo in Madrid, has Korea as a guest of honour, so 20 Korean galleries will be exhibiting. Not so good news: in a classic example of too many cooks spoiling the broth, the Korean curator has resigned because of meddling from the embassy and the Ministry of Culture & Tourism. Why the powers that be would want to introduce a show of traditional Korean culture into a modern art expo is beyond me. Yonhap has the story:

S. Korea’s plan for Spanish art fair hits obstacle after director resigns

SEOUL, June 14 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s preparations for a Spanish art fair hit a snag on Wednesday after the director organizing the effort resigned, citing bureaucratic meddling.

Kim Sun-jung, a professor at the Korean National University of Arts and head commissioner for the planned South Korean presentation at the 2006 ARCO art fair, said Tuesday that she resigned from the post because her plans were being interfered with by the government.

The annual international contemporary art fair in Madrid invited South Korea as guest of honor for its next year’s exhibition in February. About 20 Korean galleries are to take part in the event alongside 230 galleries from 35 countries, according to organizers.

Kim, the daughter of disgraced Daewoo Group founder Kim Woo-choong and a recognized curator at home and abroad, said the government had meddled with the programming that has been entrusted to her. A traditional art performance, for example, has been forced into the presentation’s programming at a great cost as a result of bureaucratic interference, she said.

“The ministry has intervened in all areas, from budget to administration and the details of events,” Kim said in a press conference.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, however, criticized Kim for organizing the event without complying with governmental fiscal standards or verifying expenses. The ministry plans to provide 2 billion won (US$2 million) for the presentation.

The ministry said other art experts who had reviewed Kim’s planned programing have found it lacked any representation of traditional Korean culture. The South Korean embassy in Spain and art experts in Seoul called for the traditional art performance “Korea Fantasy” to be included in the art fair, it said.

“The ARCO art fair is a significant opportunity to introduce Korean culture to the Spanish community. And we will go ahead with achieving this aim despite the commissioner’s resignation,” said Choi Dae-yong, director general of the ministry’s arts bureau.

The ministry plans to appoint a new commissioner to take over the job, he said.

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