Olympic Effect

Olympic Effect by Yongjoon Choi

Since 2010, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) has carried out various programs to lay the foundations of Korean architectural and design history. Accordingly, the MMCA presents the exhibition Olympic Effect: Korean Architecture and Design from 1980s to 1990s, which examines the rapid changes that occurred in Korea’s visual and material culture throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Taking “Olympic Effect” as the keywords, the exhibition revisits the architectural events and design objects that appeared as a result of the 1988 Seoul Olympics and reveals their multiple layers of meaning. As a major international event, the Olympics marked a seismic shift in all areas of Korean society. The exhibition turns the spotlight away from the Olympics themselves to focus on the overlapping scenes of the event’s preparation, exploring the urban development, environmental design, architecture, industrial design, and graphic design both prompted and ironically streamlined by the Olympics.

The legacy of the Olympics permeates our daily lives in various ways that defy physical or statistical measurement. This is seen in how the exhibition’s archival display of the era’s visual culture, material culture, and artifacts uncovers the process of how and by whom they were produced and accepted. The exhibition also retraces the work of designers and architects who remained in practice amid the social transformation of the 1980s and 1990s. Also on display are reinterpretations of these archival materials expressed in newly commissioned artworks.

Part 3: Perspectives and Façades

Part 3: Perspectives and Façades focuses on the new forms of architecture and the renewed urban landscape constructed on the materialistic ground laid by the Seoul Olympics. Choi Yongjoon’s photographs of the architecture visible from the Seoul Olympic area, including Teheranno and Euljiro 2-ga, capture the city’s surface, streamlined by the explosive emergence of high-rise buildings before and after the Olympics. These photographs are placed as frontispieces for each of the subsections: office buildings, residential facilities, infrastructure, and cultural facilities, behind which corresponding archival materials produced by the designers and architects are arranged.

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