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Title CAT-ch me if you can
Period 2024-05-03 - 2024-08-18
Venue Special Exhibition Hall I (NFMK Seoul)


Exhibition Overview

Cats, with their innate prowess, have always known how to capture the affections of humans.
Sporting large soulful eyes, cute little noses, and plump cheeks alongside an average weight of 3.6 kilograms, cats mirror the innocent allure of human babies, awakening our innate desire to nurture and protect.
In the wild, they exhibit an air of nobility, yet when it suits them, they approach humans, wielding their charm and cunning to bend us to their will.
In the past, these boldly endearing creatures convinced people to surrender their meaty morsels, and today, they compel us to joyfully embrace our roles as their loyal “cat butlers” and eagerly open our wallets in service.
The National Folk Museum of Korea presents this exhibition to shine a light on humanity’s longstanding fascination and whimsical subservience to our feline masters, from the annals of history to the present day.
Prepare to delve into the intriguing tale of how our majestic feline friends orchestrated their purrfect conquest of the world.

Part 1: The Adorably Cunning Cats

Unlike dogs, which were domesticated to be companions from early on, and unlike livestock such as cows, chickens, and pigs that are valued for their productivity, cats have managed to coexist with humans for quite some time without serving such explicit roles.
Always visible yet seldom approachable, cats possess a mysterious charm that entices humans and keeps us yearning for their elusive affection. Over the ages, their roles have shifted: at times enlisted in the war against rodents, employed in rituals to catch thieves, or even feared as malevolent beings causing mischief among humans.
This section delves into the portrayal of these adorably cunning felines in ancient paintings, literature, and newspaper archives, examining the myriad ways in which cats have bewitched, troubled, and delighted humans throughout history.

1-1. The Enchanting Cat

With their soft fur, squishy paws, sharp gazes, and pointed claws,
cats embody a captivating paradox.
The more closely you observe,
the more you uncover the mystique and amusement of their allure.

1-2. Cats among Us

Cats have always had a remarkable ability to enchant humans. So much so that they’ve even been known to sit beneath kings’ tables to receive scraps of meat. This section explores the various records of cats living alongside us, touted for their utility in catching mice, among other things.

1-3. The Other Side of Cats

Cats, with their expressionless sharp gazes, nocturnal habits, and silent movements, have also been perceived as dark and negative beings.

Part 2: Cats Claiming the Master Bedroom

Meow! Indeed, I am a sovereign in fur.
Humans may be unaware, but we have masterminded a plan to conquer the world, meow.
From the shadows beneath the floorboards to the warmth of your duvet, you’ll find yourselves enchanted by our allure and generously offering food and sanctuary as part of our grand design, meow.
In return, we gracefully tolerate the indignities of baths and the unrequested embraces and kisses, all elements of our covert reign, meow.
Though many humans show a penchant for those exuberantly tail-wagging dogs, we remain patient, awaiting the era in which we ascend to global domination and secure all human affection for ourselves, meow.

2-1. The Feline Conquest of Earth

We, the velvet-pawed tacticians, have seamlessly woven ourselves into every facet of human existence, meow. In Vietnam, we’ve cunningly replaced the rabbit as one of the 12 zodiac animals. In Japan, we reign as emblems of luck, pervading music, literature, and art with our presence, meow!

2-2. The Butler and His/Her Majesty

By providing sustenance, a resting haven, tending to our litter, and offering entertainment, it’s clear I am the anointed monarch of this abode, meow!

2-3. Journey across the Rainbow Bridge to the Celestial Cat Sphere

Our existence is a tapestry woven in a realm beyond human comprehension, swift and profound, meow. I shall bound over the rainbow bridge ahead, so if you yearn to bask in my presence once more, seek me in the great beyond, meow.

Part 3: The Neighborhood Cats

Cats navigate the edges of our society, nestled in a realm that is neither fully wild nor completely domesticated. They are “threshold creatures,” existing in our midst without ever fully belonging to the wild or our living rooms.
Whether sharing our homes or wandering our streets, it’s clear they are fellow inhabitants of our world.
In every neighborhood, “community cats” weave through our lives, supported by the “cat caregivers” that devote themselves to the well-being of these local denizens.

3-1. Searching for Coexistence

Cats, as community members, elicit mixed feelings: warmth from some and unease from others. The journey towards a symbiotic existence, where differing human perspectives and feline lives intertwine harmoniously, is ongoing. The key to coexistence—where does it lie?

Date 2024-05-01
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