Le grand ēchangeToday's artists are lucky because they don't have to worry so much about self-promotion. There is no shortage of managers who aggressively promote their works. If you're a skilled artist, it's nearly impossible to remain undiscovered. Just as the managers do, business and event coordinators make sure that as many people as possible meet the artist and get a chance to appreciate his work. They also see to it that their favorite artists continue to be inspired by fresh environments and keep up their creative energy. As a result of these changes, traveling has became an essential part of an artist's life.
Since her arrival in Korea in September 2000, Francine Meoule, the French Embassy's cultural and artistic attache, has tried to arrange bonds between artists in Korea and France and ensure that they get their steady doses of inspiration.
Formerly an art history student and art manager in France, Ms. Meoule came to Asia for the first time in 1996 to help promote cultural exchanges between Thailand and France. But her association with the Asian art scene began before that. While working for an artists group supported by the French Association of Artistic Action, she organized an exhibit, "French Spring," held in Singapore in 1995, which was well received in both countries. Her dedication to promoting art in Bangkok took shape in 1999 with the exhibit "Cities on the Move." The show had already been a success in the West; it started in Vienna, then had runs in New York and London before opening in Bangkok. After Bangkok, it went to Helsinki.
Ms. Meoule said that her primary motivation to forge links between Korean and French artists came from the late Moon Ho-geun, who served as the curator of the Seoul Arts Center. Mr. Moon often expressed a wish to arrange cultural exchanges between the two countries. After he conveyed his hope to Olivier Poivre d'Arvor, the president of Artistic Action, at the Asia-Europe Meeting two years ago, Ms. Meoule grabbed the ball and ran with it.
Those wishes have come together in the French Korean Spring Festival, which will run through June and consists of 20 events, ranging from concerts to visual art performances. Some 300 artists from the two countries will take part. "We were able to organize the event so quickly because people outside Korea were so interested in being part of the World Cup this year," Ms. Meoule told the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition.
Many of the French artists coming to Korea will participate in a special "residency" program: They will arrive on the peninsula empty-handed, seek inspiration from the local culture, then create their works for the show while they're here. In exchange, Korean artists will do likewise in the fall at the Fall Festival in Paris and the Extreme Asia Festival in Nantes.
Ms. Meoule's hectic schedule has her flying all over the world; she complained that she was unable to go to Paris last week, when a press conference for the fall festival was held. But her optimism and energy never flags.
"The contemporary art scenes are as exciting as ever," she said. "Probably the most interesting projects are the residency program, 'Short Asian Stories' to be held in Yeouido and 'Korean Air France' at Ssamzie Space."
You feel and absorb new and varied experiences while traveling, and this group of artists coming to Korea will create highly original works from what they experience on the peninsula, she said. "It makes much more sense than bringing over premade works."
For visual art, the goal is to spur creativity via diversity
By Choi Jie-ho
Two of the more intriguing visual art segments of the French Korean Spring Festival carry the themes of unusualness and air travel.
This show, to be held in Seoul from April to June and in Gyeongju from September to December, ostensibily is averse to calling art "extraordinary." The organizer of the show, Kim Sung-won, said, "This exhibit aims to be thoroughly original and leave viewers with the profound impression that they've experienced something unique."
The French artists showing in this exhibit try to look deeper into ordinary things and portray them in a new light. But there is no common theme linking the works. "The purpose is to spur creativity through diversity," Miss Kim said.
Of the 14 artists participating, 11 will visit Korea, including Melik Ohanian, Bruno Serralongue, Koo Jeong-a, Marine Hugonnier and Mathieu Mercier. The video artist Ohanian will come to Korea two weeks early and focus on the local hip-hop scene for his exhibit. Koo will show a massive poster with a fresh new look at life's mundane matters.
The exhibition will run from April 26 to June 23 at Seoul's Artsonje Center, then move to a venue in Gyeongju to be shown from September 13 to December 15. For more information, call Artsonje Center at 02-773-8940.
"KOREA AIR FRANCE"
The airplane expedites cross-cultural communication and encounters. It symbolizes the merging of the world's diverse cultures. Airplanes blur the boundaries between nationalities, races, cultures and languages.
This show, to be held from June 13 to July 31 at Seoul's Ssamzie Space, is about building such bridges between cultures. "The show is centered on the concept of bringing Korean and French artists together to share aesthetic ideas and inspirations," said the director of the gallery, Kim Hong-hee.
Six artists will show their works at the exhibit: Dove Allouche, Evariste Richer, Ninar Esber, Lee Seul-gi, Jean-Francoius Moriceau and Petra Mrzyck. The six are known for their progressive and experimental spirit, and for their versatility.
The show was organized in association with the Ecole des Beaux Arts de Paris. As a reciprocal event, that institution will host a series of three exhibitions in the City of Light next fall that will show the works of six Korean artists.
The venue welcoming the French artists, Ssamzie Space, actively encourages and promotes works created by Korea's progressive and bold young artists. The gallery complex hopes that this event will spark the public's interest in cutting-edge, experimental art, as well as introducing the French artists.
Dance exhibits will make the contemporary scene more accessible
By Jeong Young-ju
"Short stories about Asia reviewed and corrected by blacks"? That's just one of the many performance-based events France will bring to Korea for the collaborative spring arts festival.
"STORIES ABOUT ASIA"
From May 27 to June 1 at an outdoor amphitheater in Seoul's Yeouido Park, a group of 30 performance artists called Royal de Luxe Company will put on "Petits contes Chinois revus et corriges par les negres."
The company is famous in Europe mostly for organizing extravagant and sensational street parades. Its show in Korea will borrow a formula it used in Cameroon, where the group put on a performance inspired by African folktales.
The show will feature lively acting, music and dancing. The gist is to experience the core of a culture from an outsider's standpoint and thereby see it from a fresh angle. An outdoor venue was chosen because performance art in Asia has customarily taken place under the open skies and near to nature.
The show will mix humor and insight into Asian culture. A model of the Great Wall will represent the odd juxtaposition of timeless, imperial strength and a tourist attraction. Puppets will be used as well, depicting horses, dragons and warriors.
LE JARDIN IO IO ITO
One of the best ways to bring people of different cultures together is through dance. On May 25 at the Gyeonggido Culture Art Center in Suwon, the French dance troupe Montalvo-Hervieu Company will put on a true dance extravaganza. On tap will be styles such as circus dances, traditional Chinese dances, baroque dances, modern dances, traditional African dances, West Indies dances, break dances, hulas and classical dances.
The company was created in 1985 by the choreographer Jose Montalvo and the dancer Dominique Hervieu. It quickly rose in prominence in the dance world by earning awards at competitions throughout Europe. Beginning in 1989, it began to focus on creating events that rely on highly inventive choreography.
"Our goal is to show that contemporary dance is accessible, that everyone can take part in it," Mr. Montalvo said.
The dancers taking part in the show come not only from France, but also from other countries all over the world. The convergence of so many cultures, the energy of contemporary dance forms and the modern music promise to be highly stimulating. Also, the performers will be outfitted in dazzling get-ups.
The dance festival will be a particularly special event for Suwon and Gyeonggi province; rarely does an international show of this scale and quality play outside of Seoul. This will be a golden opportunity for the good people of Suwon to experience high art right in their backyards.
Suwon's ceremony for the 2002 World Cup
June 1. Hwaseong Fortress. 02-764 6546
Hesitating Surveyor - Turak Company
May 23-26. Street theater performance. 031-592-5993
Asian Short Stories Reviewed and Corrected by Blacks ?Royal de Luxe Company
From May 27 to June 1. Yeouido Park. 02-399-1699
Elisabeth Platel's workshops
From April 29 to May 11. Korea National Univ. of Arts. 02-520-8131
Residence of the "Jeune Ballet" by the Lyon-based National Conservatoire of Music
May 12-30. 02-520-8142
A production by the French choreographer Michel Kelemenis, in collaboration with Korea National Univ. of Arts students
May 27-29. Korea National University
Le Jardin Lo Lo Ito - Montalvo-Hervieu Company
May 25. Gyeonggido Culture Art Center, Suwon. 031-230-2377
Less and More
To May 3. Contemporary Art National Museum in Seoul. 02-2188-6044
Gwangju 4th International Contemporary Art Biennale: "Pause"
To June 29. Gwangju. 062-515-4652
Opening ceremony for Rudy Ricciotti's "Footbridge of Peace"
April 25. Sunyu island of Seoul's Han River. 02-3708-2424
From April 27 to June 23. Artsonje Center. 02-733-8941
Residence of the artist Come Mosta Heirt
From May 21 to June 20. Jeju island. 064-702-0203
The Metamorphoses and the Model
From the end of May to mid-August. Daelim Contemporary Art Museum. 02-720-0667
Skertzo lighting project: "Real Interface"
June 3-16. Gallery Hyundai and Chosun Art Gallery
Korean Air France
From June 11 to July 31. Ssamzie Space. 02-3142-1693
Women's film festival in Seoul
From Thursday to April 12. Dong Soong Art Center. 02-583-3598
Summit of the International Federation of Film Archive
April 22-23. Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.
Jeonju Alternative Film Festival
From Monday to May 4. Citizen's Hall and various cinemas in Jeonju. 063-273-1763
The Second Seoul French Film Festival
June 16-21. Central 6 Cinema, Marriott Hotel, Seoul.
The dates and the locations of the following events have yet to be determined. Contact the French Embassy for details. 02-317-8500
Seoul Drum Festival - Featuring world music styles, as well as pop, rock and jazz
'Wartane' and 'Break Quintet' by the Black Blanc Beur Company
ESMOD fashion show
Jean-Paul Gaultier fashion show
by Inēs Cho