Sohyeon Park

Primary page content

The course certainly strengthened my knowledge of the international art scene and current curatorial discourse

Why did you choose this programme?

MFA Curating was my only choice for a Masters programme. Firstly, I wanted to be in London since it is one of the central cities for contemporary art and from there it was easy to travel around Europe to have a real experience of the European contemporary art scene. Secondly, it was because of the school’s reputation for contemporary art and curating. I was in need of finding own curatorial standpoint and deepening my research skills after a few years working as a curator in Korea.

What was your overall experience of the course?

It was even better than my expectations. The biggest privilege for me was being amongst the intellectual fellow students and tutors. I learned a lot from them while having classroom discussions as well as outside class. The course was very intense with lots of reading and writing. The choices of subjects and reading materials were excellent in enhancing my knowledge of the field, and the focus on writing helped me to organize a critical way of thinking. But the real changes and integration of all this knowledge came from discussions where I learned from others’ different perspectives and listened to their field experiences.

What have you done since graduating?

Since then, I came back to South Korea and became a curator and founding member of Barakat Contemporary in Seoul. Korea has a well-developed critical contemporary art scene with many good artists, art institutions and governmental supports. However, Barakat Contemporary responded to what it perceived as the weakness in the stable art market, collectors and patron culture to support artistic practice in the long term. We therefore built a gallery that aimed to foster this culture and to connect the international and domestic art market with critical and institutional relations. We put a lot of effort into research and curating for the underlying gallery strategies as well as for each exhibition.

In what ways do you think the course has influenced or fed into your practice?

It helped me broaden my perspective on the contemporary art field. The course certainly strengthened my knowledge of the international art scene and current curatorial discourses. During the first year, the course was intense with seminars and discussions. In the second year, it focused more on personal research. If the first year is like learning how to cook and what ingredients to choose, the second year is the stage when the actual cooking starts. In the second year, I went deeper into my fundamental research on art, history, different historical perspectives and perceptions between different cultures. It was an interesting period that in turn led to many further questions. 

What advice would you offer current Goldsmiths MFA Curating students?

Try to keep making trials and errors. In some ways I was a bit lost when I was studying with so much information to digest. The actual integration of knowledge that I gained at Goldsmiths really started after I graduated. Especially if you are someone who comes from to the UK from a distant region, and are a non-native English speaker, the course can be very intense. But if you make it through to the end you will be qualified to some extent as a curator. So believe in yourself, and keep trying working at your own speed.

For me, curating is a very appealing subject to study as well as a career to have. You have your own standpoint and you can connect all the dots around you; artworks, artists, people, institutions, social/cultural/historical issues etc. Curatorial subjects can be varied in temporal and spatial spectrums. You can explore and research any kind of subjects for your practice. There is always so much to learn.