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Digital platform Manifold to promote Korean art overseas

Main page of Manifold, an online art platform developed by the Korea Arts Management Service to introduce up-and-coming Korean artists to the world / Captured from Manifold
Main page of Manifold, an online art platform developed by the Korea Arts Management Service to introduce up-and-coming Korean artists to the world / Captured from Manifold

By Kwon Mee-yoo

Manifold, an online art platform organized by the Korea Arts Management Service (KAMS), is overcoming the limitations posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by introducing up-and-coming Korean artists to the world.

The sleek online platform presents 25 artists and 11 galleries managing the artists, selected through the 2020 Grant for Artist Management program funded by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and KAMS.

In its third year, the Grant for Artist Management aims to promote healthy relations between artists and galleries, and initiate and maintain a virtuous cycle in the field of art by matching aspiring artists with proficient galleries.

"Many people might have experienced similar concerns last year ― how to change their original plan for an offline event when shifting online due to the COVID-19 pandemic," Yoo Jin-sang, Kaywon School of Art and Design professor and art critic who serves as the artistic director of Manifold, said in an interview with The Korea Times, Feb. 9.

"An online project is fundamentally different from an offline project. So I brainstormed a lot with KAMS officials to shape this online project in a short time. If we did a physical exhibition at the Hangaram Art Museum of Seoul Arts Center as planned, the main target would be a Korean audience who would come to see the exhibit. However, when it goes online, people all over the world can see the works with the click of a mouse. So we had to provide high quality images and more information about the artist."

The platform is available in both Korean and English as he believes that Korean artists should look outward.

"Global art market sales are over $60 billion, but Korea makes up less than 0.5 percent of this. The number of artists, or graduating art students, are continuously increasing, but their works cannot all be consumed within Korea. So they have to target international audiences," Yoo said.

Instead of creating a website imitating a traditional group exhibition style, Yoo suggest developing an online platform, similar to 25 solo exhibitions of 25 artists with the potential to expand as more content is added to the platform.

"We pursued a highly useful website or platform, instead of one-off online exhibition that would be soon forgotten afterward. Each artist can hold a solo exhibition here and it could be used as further reference by the artist or the gallery," Yoo said.

Yoo Jin-sang, artistic director of Manifold, poses for a photo during an interview with The Korea Times at the Korea Arts Management Service headquarters in central Seoul, Feb. 9. Courtesy of KAMS
Yoo Jin-sang, artistic director of Manifold, poses for a photo during an interview with The Korea Times at the Korea Arts Management Service headquarters in central Seoul, Feb. 9. Courtesy of KAMS

Yoo said the Grant for Artist Management supports both the artist and gallery to establish long-term trusting relationships for mutual benefit.

"Even K-pop acts make a contract for at least five years as it takes time for them to make a debut and gain popularity. Typically, a Korean gallery signs a two-year contract with an artist, but it is too short a period to have a visible result in the art field. The grant is to support the relationship in its early stages," Yoo said.

"A gallery and artist are like lovers. They both need to be committed to each other. The artist should produce good work continuously and the gallery should promote and sell art works. The relationship cannot go on if one side does not accomplish what is expected."

To control the quality of the website, Yoo wrote all descriptions for all 25 artists himself.

"It took a lot of time, but I tried to commune with each artist and understand them better on an attempt to create a differentiation from existing online exhibitions," Yoo said. "It might be difficult to actually sell artwork via Manifold amid the pandemic, but this platform will live on and galleries and artists can update the content for further use."

In the mobile era, Yoo also put a lot of effort in optimizing Manifold for both PC and mobile viewing.

"Each artist's work is in a different style and each has the best way to be presented. Some are better when vertically scrolled, while others are suitable for horizontal swiping. So the design team and I simulated various ways to find the right one for each," he explained.

"When the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end, there will be explosive demand for quality cultural content. Manifold will be able to guide those who look for good artists and artwork in the post-pandemic world."
Main page of Manifold, an online art platform developed by the Korea Arts Management Service to introduce up-and-coming Korean artists to the world / Captured from Manifold
Main page of Manifold, an online art platform developed by the Korea Arts Management Service to introduce up-and-coming Korean artists to the world / Captured from Manifold

By Kwon Mee-yoo

Manifold, an online art platform organized by the Korea Arts Management Service (KAMS), is overcoming the limitations posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by introducing up-and-coming Korean artists to the world.

The sleek online platform presents 25 artists and 11 galleries managing the artists, selected through the 2020 Grant for Artist Management program funded by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and KAMS.

In its third year, the Grant for Artist Management aims to promote healthy relations between artists and galleries, and initiate and maintain a virtuous cycle in the field of art by matching aspiring artists with proficient galleries.

"Many people might have experienced similar concerns last year ― how to change their original plan for an offline event when shifting online due to the COVID-19 pandemic," Yoo Jin-sang, Kaywon School of Art and Design professor and art critic who serves as the artistic director of Manifold, said in an interview with The Korea Times, Feb. 9.

"An online project is fundamentally different from an offline project. So I brainstormed a lot with KAMS officials to shape this online project in a short time. If we did a physical exhibition at the Hangaram Art Museum of Seoul Arts Center as planned, the main target would be a Korean audience who would come to see the exhibit. However, when it goes online, people all over the world can see the works with the click of a mouse. So we had to provide high quality images and more information about the artist."

The platform is available in both Korean and English as he believes that Korean artists should look outward.

"Global art market sales are over $60 billion, but Korea makes up less than 0.5 percent of this. The number of artists, or graduating art students, are continuously increasing, but their works cannot all be consumed within Korea. So they have to target international audiences," Yoo said.

Instead of creating a website imitating a traditional group exhibition style, Yoo suggest developing an online platform, similar to 25 solo exhibitions of 25 artists with the potential to expand as more content is added to the platform.

"We pursued a highly useful website or platform, instead of one-off online exhibition that would be soon forgotten afterward. Each artist can hold a solo exhibition here and it could be used as further reference by the artist or the gallery," Yoo said.

Yoo Jin-sang, artistic director of Manifold, poses for a photo during an interview with The Korea Times at the Korea Arts Management Service headquarters in central Seoul, Feb. 9. Courtesy of KAMS
Yoo Jin-sang, artistic director of Manifold, poses for a photo during an interview with The Korea Times at the Korea Arts Management Service headquarters in central Seoul, Feb. 9. Courtesy of KAMS

Yoo said the Grant for Artist Management supports both the artist and gallery to establish long-term trusting relationships for mutual benefit.

"Even K-pop acts make a contract for at least five years as it takes time for them to make a debut and gain popularity. Typically, a Korean gallery signs a two-year contract with an artist, but it is too short a period to have a visible result in the art field. The grant is to support the relationship in its early stages," Yoo said.

"A gallery and artist are like lovers. They both need to be committed to each other. The artist should produce good work continuously and the gallery should promote and sell art works. The relationship cannot go on if one side does not accomplish what is expected."

To control the quality of the website, Yoo wrote all descriptions for all 25 artists himself.

"It took a lot of time, but I tried to commune with each artist and understand them better on an attempt to create a differentiation from existing online exhibitions," Yoo said. "It might be difficult to actually sell artwork via Manifold amid the pandemic, but this platform will live on and galleries and artists can update the content for further use."

In the mobile era, Yoo also put a lot of effort in optimizing Manifold for both PC and mobile viewing.

"Each artist's work is in a different style and each has the best way to be presented. Some are better when vertically scrolled, while others are suitable for horizontal swiping. So the design team and I simulated various ways to find the right one for each," he explained.

"When the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end, there will be explosive demand for quality cultural content. Manifold will be able to guide those who look for good artists and artwork in the post-pandemic world."
Kwon Mee-yoo meeyoo@koreatimes.co.kr


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